Press release from May Ed Lee’s Office, April 25, 2017.
Mayor Lee Celebrates 100 Apartments Protected Under City’s Small Sites Program
Recent purchase of properties adds to growing list of housing preserved in Richmond, Mission, North Beach, Bernal Heights/Outer Mission, Duboce Triangle and Noe Valley neighborhoods
San Francisco, Calif.– Mayor Edwin M. Lee today announced that the City’s Small Sites Program (SSP) has purchased more than 100 units, a major milestone for the tenant-protection program founded in 2014.
The SSP provides financing for the acquisition and rehabilitation of privately owned properties to shield existing tenants from eviction. The program benefits a diverse population of long-term tenants and expands affordable-housing opportunities in San Francisco. Housing acquired through the SSP will be permanently affordable for existing tenants and future generations of tenants.
“The protection of rent-controlled units helps middle- and working-class families who are struggling to keep a foothold in our city,” said Mayor Lee. “This program helps long-term San Franciscans stay in their homes and in the neighborhoods where they have planted roots and built a community. If we want our City to retain the unique fabric of each neighborhood, we need to protect these residents.”
Two acquisitions that were completed in the past month — one at 63 Lapidge Street by the Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA) and one at 4042 Fulton Street by the San Francisco Community Land Trust — allowed the program to exceed its 100-unit milestone at 103 units. Later this week, 3198 24th Street will be acquired by MEDA, protecting another eight households from the threat of displacement.
When the 24th Street property closes, the SSP will have contributed $36.2 million in City funds to help nonprofit sponsors purchase and renovate 19 properties. Additionally, there are 10 other pending applications that are expected to close this summer.
“MEDA is proud to be a major part of the City and the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development’s efforts to expand their Small Sites Program and save vulnerable tenants from eviction,” said MEDA Director of Community Real Estate Karoleen Feng. “MEDA has already been able to purchase nine buildings, comprising 48 units, via funds from this innovative affordable-housing program. Residents include artists, teachers, single mothers, immigrants and others, all now able to stay in the Mission.”
The site at 4042 Fulton Street is a three-story, five-unit building that houses three retired senior households and two families with children under 18. Some of the tenants have lived in that building for as many as 40 years. Renovations for the building will be focused on improving health, safety, building envelope and other systems. The building will also be brought up to the City’s Soft Story Retrofit code by September.
“Our Small Sites Acquisition Program is one of the most impactful tools that we have to stem displacement, stop real estate speculation and prevent the loss of our precious rent controlled housing stock,” said District One Supervisor Sandra Fewer. “I am proud to have worked with the Housing Rights Committee, the San Francisco Community Land Trust and MOHCD to lock down this site in my neighborhood, the first in the Richmond District and on the west side of San Francisco. I strongly support the Small Sites Program and look forward to its stabilizing many more homes in the future.”
“I would like to thank Mayor Lee, Sandra Fewer, the Housing Rights Committee and the San Francisco Land Trust for allowing us to remain in our home of 40 years,” said Deborah Strom, a resident of 4042 Fulton Street. “Without their combined help and perseverance, we would have unquestionably been just another eviction statistic in San Francisco.”
“Every time a building goes on the market, we hold our breath,” said Joseph Smooke of the Housing Rights Committee. “Landlords who buy these smaller apartment buildings often use various no-fault eviction strategies to get current tenants out so they can move in new, more affluent tenants or sell off the units for large profits. This is the first Small Site acquisition in the Richmond, and it gives us hope that we can keep using this program to stabilize tenants throughout the western neighborhoods of San Francisco.”
“It is quite exciting to see our first SSP acquisition here in the Richmond, where too many tenants are facing eviction,” said Tyler Macmillan of the San Francisco Community Land Trust. “This purchase was particularly important in expanding the Land Trust and Small Sites model for permanent affordability outside the central neighborhoods.”
For the 63 Lapidge Street and 24th Street properties, the SFCLT and MEDA worked with eviction prevention organizations such as the HRC and the Tenderloin Housing Clinic to identify properties with tenants at risk of Ellis Act evictions. The nonprofit owners will complete renovations at each property over the next few months to address delayed maintenance issues found at the properties and prepare vacant units for occupancy. After renovations are complete, vacant units will be offered for rent through a lottery process to applicants with incomes up to 120 percent of Area Median Income (AMI).
Funding for the Small Sites Program comes from the voter-approved Housing Trust Fund, the $310 million housing bond approved by voters in 2015, Inclusionary Housing Program fees, condo-conversion fees, Development Impact Fees and the SoMa Stabilization Fund.
“Preventing displacement and gentrification requires many strategies including tenant protection, building new affordable housing and preserving existing affordable units,” said Rich Gross of Enterprise Community Partners Inc., a lender to SSP acquisitions. “SSP is key to the preservation strategy. The City of San Francisco’s program of taking unrestricted affordable homes off the speculative market and making them permanently affordable is leading the country.”
“SSP is creating lasting impact amidst San Francisco’s rapidly increasing cost of housing,” said Ross Culverwell, the Northern California Community Loan Fund’s Chief Lending Officer. “Through the program we’ve been able to keep longtime city residents in their homes and in San Francisco.”
The recent milestone for SSP demonstrates the Mayor’s collaboration between community organizations and the City to create more affordable housing and economic stability throughout the City’s neighborhoods impacted by gentrification.