SF Mayor works toward affordable housing

Excerpt from San Francisco Mayor’s Office press release:

San Francisco, CA-Mayor Edwin M. Lee today announced the creation of the Housing Trust Fund Working Group. The broad working group is assigned the task of designing a ballot measure that would create a permanent source of revenue to fund the creation of housing that is affordable to low income, moderate income and middle-class households in San Francisco. Mayor Lee will work with the Board of Supervisors and the community to develop a measure for the November 2012 Ballot.

The Mayor said, “If we can come together to tackle tough issues like pension reform, we can surely work together to create a permanent source of revenue to fund the production of housing in San Francisco at every level of the economic spectrum. Affordable and middle class housing are critical to the economic diversity and economic vitality of our City. With the elimination of affordable housing and with a nearly 50 percent decrease in federal affordable housing funds this year alone, we must innovate locally to ensure San Francisco remains a place that everyone can call home.”

Mayor Lee set an initial target of generating $50 million in additional revenue to fund affordable housing for low income households as well as create incentives for market rate developers to produce workforce and middle class housing. This local revenue would leverage significant federal and state funding, as well as stimulate our local economy through the creation of construction and permanent jobs.

The working group assembled by Mayor Lee will consist of representatives from different sectors of the real estate industry, including affordable housing developers, market rate developers, realtors and small property owners.

The Mayor’s Office of Housing Director Olson Lee said, “By working together, we can come up with the optimal solution that acknowledges that the goal of creating affordable and middle class housing, and the jobs that housing creates that is critical to San Francisco.”  Olson was tapped by Mayor Lee  to lead the Housing Trust Fund Working Group.

The San Francisco Redevelopment Agency, which will be eliminated on February 1st, has created over 12,000 units of affordable housing since its creation. This constitutes the single largest source of affordable housing in San Francisco. The Mayor’s Office of Housing projects a 48% cut to federal HOME funds, which is one of the primary sources of federal affordable housing funding to San Francisco.

According to the press release, these cuts could decimate future affordable housing production in San Francisco, an industry that has proven to be a steady economic anchor during the Great Recession. After the economic downturn, affordable housing represented 42 percent of the new units produced in 2010. And affordable housing produces more than just units, it produces jobs.  For every 100 units of affordable housing created, 117 construction jobs and 30 management, maintenance and service jobs are created.

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