San Francisco Housing Accelerator Fund Launched, Will Help MEDA Secure Housing for Mission Residents Vulnerable to Eviction

”We can’t solve our affordable-housing challenges alone, and I call on the private sector to jump in.” This was a comment from San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee in his 2015 State of the City address.

With MEDA being at the forefront of preservation/production of affordable and stable housing in the Mission, the nonprofit echoes that statement.

The good news is that the San Francisco Housing Accelerator Fund (SFHAF) is a new, one-stop nonprofit entity that can aggregate private, philanthropic and corporate capital to bring forward and expand the impact of public funds for affordable housing in San Francisco. Think of it as efficient bridge financing.

At a City Hall press conference today, SFHAF was joined by nonprofits and City officials, including Mayor Lee, all coming together to celebrate incipient success and looking to bring other investors into the fold. A number of the initial investors of SFHAF were also on hand, including Citi. Global Director of Citi Community Development and Inclusive Finance Bob Annibale, in town from London, explained that Citi had provided a grant to SFHAF, knowing of the need for such financing to save not just residents, but also small businesses.

In addition to Citi, Dignity Health, the San Francisco Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation Bank of America and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation also put in initial investments, bringing SFHAF from idea to reality. Lending of SFHAF’s initial $50 million fund will commence in April.

SFHAF will allow developers to move quickly to acquire new sites and stabilize existing affordable housing (for example, MEDA using the City’s Small Sites program to buy four- to 25-unit buildings where tenants are vulnerable to no-fault eviction.)

Such developers are diligently working to secure sites for permanent affordability, so that people can stay in their homes and neighborhoods, but they are competing with speculative buyers who can act fast. SFHAF ensures that affordable-housing developers remain competitive in San Francisco’s tight, expensive market.

MEDA’s Director of Community Real Estate Karoleen Feng and her team know the situation all too well. Feng (photo, center) stated, “Corporate, foundation and individual Investments in SFHAF translate to opportunity. MEDA can leverage such funds to be competitive for land-banking — such as two Mission Street properties now vacant after catastrophic fires — and for buying buildings where our city’s most-vulnerable residents could be victims of no-fault evictions. One way we do this is via the City’s Small Sites Program. MEDA has already saved 44 households and seven small businesses using this program. These are immigrants. Working families. Teachers. Artists. Our neighbors.”

To showcase the power of such preservation of housing, Feng then introduced ESL teacher Emily Kurland and single mom Beatriz Gorduño, who spoke on behalf of the tenants of the six-unit property at 3800 Mission, a Small Sites Program property on which MEDA is closing tomorrow.

Kurland expressed thanks for MEDA and the City’s Small Sites program, stating, “I make a good salary, yet eviction could happen to me. We were lucky, but others are not so lucky. Our landlord received higher offers, but chose people over profit.”

These comments were similar to those of fellow resident Garduño, who explained, “I have lived in this apartment for 20 years. It feels like it’s my home after all of that time. I felt like everything was over. I am so grateful to everyone that I can now stay in my home.”

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Are you a tenant whose building is for sale? Contact MEDA: cre@medasf.org.

Are you looking to invest in this fund? Contact SFHAF Executive Director Rebecca Center Foster: rebecca.center@gmail.com or (415) 799-9644.

 

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