With a $26 billion backlog of deferred maintenance at public housing sites nationwide, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) knew an innovative approach was needed to remedy the situation.
That was the genesis of the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program, now in effect throughout the land, including San Francisco.
This means the City may leverage debt and equity, from public and private sources, to reinvest in their local public housing stock. All residents retain prior tenants’ rights, with the units guaranteed to remain as affordable housing in perpetuity, but becoming Section 8 housing.
MEDA gets involved
As the goal of MEDA’s Community Real Estate team is to produce and preserve affordable housing, the RAD program just made sense. Tackling such work also aligns with MEDA’s core values.
Explained MEDA Director of Community Real Estate Karoleen Feng, “When RAD started, we immediately applied to transfer ownership of public housing in San Francisco, so that we could preserve affordable housing. This is an integral part of our neighborhood stabilization plan.”
Feng and her team have been hard at work — in coordination with co-owner BRIDGE Housing — making plans to renovate the 400+ units that are being transferred to MEDA. BRIDGE Housing was chosen as an affordable-housing partner in this undertaking because of their over three decades of impact in this realm.
“We appreciate MEDA’s deep roots in the Mission and long history of community service,” said President and CEO Cynthia A. Parker of BRIDGE Housing. “For complex developments such as the RAD properties, partnerships are especially important. I love that our organizations share a number of core values, including a commitment to equity and a holistic approach to improving people’s lives.”
Funding sources for such work come from the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development (MOHCD), San Francisco Housing Authority (SFHA), California Tax Credit Allocation Committee (CTCAC) 4 percent tax credits, California Debt Limit Allocation Committee (CDLAC), Bank of America, Freddie Mac and Enterprise Community Partners, plus RAD and Section 8 vouchers.
Refurbishment of units is being done in a two-phased approach. Phase I includes a trio of properties deemed the Mission-Castro cluster. There are 90 units at 25 Sanchez Street and 42 units at 462 Duboce Avenue just around the corner. The third property is located at 255 Woodside Avenue, with 110 units. All residents are seniors and/or disabled.
These buildings have been undergoing repairs since last December. As units are refurbished, residents are temporarily moved. Relocation is to a vacant unit on-site, at another RAD property or in a market-rate unit.
MEDA Project Manager Leslie Palaroan is spearheading these moves. The strategy included an interview with every resident once the property had transferred in November 2015, a later follow-up interview to assess if needs had changed and constant contact with residents who are set to move in the next construction phase. This created a level of trust and exhibited sensitivity to tenants’ needs. A monthly tea time also gives residents a forum to air concerns.
There are then 90- and 30-day notices advising of the impending relocation/refurbishment, with the resident contacted a final time seven days before their actual moving date.
All units will have the following work done:
- Flooring replaced
- Double-glazed windows added
- New front doors
- Unit completely painted
- Granite countertops, plus new refrigerator, stove, sink and cabinetry in kitchen
- Circuit breakers moved from closet to outside wall to meet latest fire code
- Bathroom sink, toilet and bathtubs replaced, as needed
- Grab bars in bathroom and hearing/visual features (as most residents are seniors)
- Fresh 100 brand air-supply vents added
- Baseboard heaters (Sanchez only, as at Duboce these heaters are in good shape)
As both buildings are showing signs of age — with Sanchez constructed in 1972 and Duboce the year prior — the structures’ exteriors are getting refreshed. This includes everything from new roofs and modernization of elevators to ramp-accessible outside spaces and sprinkler systems to meet current code.
“The buildings will provide a better life for our residents and be a better fit with the neighborhood when all is done,” stated Feng.
HUD visits from DC to see progress
With many units of the Mission-Castro cluster now refurbished, HUD Deputy Secretary Nani Coloretti (photo, foreground, fourth from right) stopped by 25 Sanchez and 462 Duboce yesterday to see how RAD was working so far. She was greeted by staff from MEDA, BRIDGE Housing Corporation, MOHCD, and the San Francisco Housing Authority.
Prior to working at HUD, Coloretti was at the Treasury Department, with prior ties to the Bay Area as budget director for former Mayor Gavin Newsom, plus a six-year stint at the San Francisco Department of Children, Youth and their Families. Coloretti is also a graduate of UC Berkeley, earning a Masters in Public Policy.
As the second most senior official at HUD, Coloretti manages the department’s day-to-day operations, including a $45 billion annual budget and around 8,000 employees.
Donning a Fine Line Construction hard hat, everyone headed to a 25 Sanchez “before” unit — this one in demo mode. BRIDGE Housing’s Senior Project Manager Lindsay Haddix led the tour, explaining the challenges and successes to date. Haddix gave an in-depth explanation of all items that would be upgraded in the unit.
The group then headed to an “after” unit at the same property, with a brand-new kitchen, flooring, windows, heating system and more now creating a much-improved living situation for the tenant, who is ready to move back any day.
When hearing of the typical five-week renovation timeline, Deputy Secretary Coloretti said, “That is fantastic. Amazing.”
All then headed around the block to 462 Duboce, where a unit in the midst of rehabilitation was shown. Everyone then headed to the roof, where scaffolding was in place, with major work obviously taking place to the exterior.
While there is still much more work to be done, today’s tour evidenced that things are on target to meet the anticipated 2017 completion of all construction at both RAD properties. The program is already showcasing success.
“MEDA is proud to be part of this important work of preservation of housing for vulnerable residents. We thank everyone who is partnering to make this a reality, and we truly appreciate Deputy Secretary Coloretti for visiting us today to see the quick progress that has been made to better residents’ lives,” concluded Feng.