With San Francisco’s Mission District being one of the most expensive neighborhoods in one of the most expensive cities in the United States to live in, the development of a new apartment complex entirely dedicated to affordable housing is moving welcome news.
About 40 San Francisco residents gathered at a community meeting at the Mission Neighborhood Health Center on July 13, where they received details on the Mission Economic Development Agency’s (MEDA) affordable housing project at 2060 Folsom Street.
The meeting was hosted by various organizations and businesses, including MEDA, the Chinatown Community Development Center (CCDC), Mithun Solomon, Y.A. Studio, Larkin Street Youth Services and PODER.
The new project will be a nine-story building with 127 units, according to MEDA senior project manager Elaine Yee, with 60 to 70 percent of the units consisting of two and three bedroom apartments, and 10 percent consisting of one-bedroom units.
Applicants who have large families will have the choice of either applying for a two-bedroom apartment, with a capacity to house five individuals, or a three-bedroom apartment with a capacity of seven.
Rental units will be available to those with incomes up to 60 percent of the area median income (AMI). For example, the AMI for a family of four in San Francisco would be $61,150, which would mean a monthly rent of $1,376 for two bedrooms and $1,529 for three bedrooms.
“I really enjoyed the meeting because I believe that this housing project is a great opportunity,” said Jose Luis Cerna, who attended the meeting. “Because so much time has gone by and for the first time there is a reunion meeting that discusses hope in housing and the prices on the apartment seem affordable.”
Cerna is one of the many who have been forced out of the Mission due to expensive rent. He is currently unemployed, but worked at a car wash for fourteen years. He now lives in an apartment on Divisadero Street with his daughter Silva and her daughter Leslie, who accompanied Cerna to the meeting.
“We live in a area where everything costs a lot money,” Cerna said. “We spend too much and earn very little, so for me and my family [this housing project] is an amazing opportunity. Hopefully we get the chance to live in the apartments.”
In recent years, the price of housing in San Francisco has skyrocketed due to the tech industry boom. It has become the most expensive rental market in the country, having a median one-bedroom apartment costing $3,590, according to last months report from real estate site Zumper.
Tirso Castro, a roofer and father of four, has been living in the Mission for 26 years on South Van Ness Avenue. Both Castro and his wife attended the meeting, and mentioned that rent is getting expensive at their apartment.
“I would love to stay where I live, but it isn’t my house,” Castro said. “I have no choice, but to leave, so what I would love is to have a place that I could own and finally call home.”
In addition to the family units, about 25 percent of the development’s studios and one-bedroom apartments will be reserved for youths ages of 18 to 24 who come from services such as Larkin Street Youth Services.
The apartment complex will be located between Shotwell and Folsom streets. The new landscape will also feature the “paseo,” a 16-foot wide by 280-foot long pathway that will make it accessible for pedestrians to walk in between the building and the park. The new park is set to open December 2016 or January 2017, according to Curbed San Francisco.
The new building will also have wide sidewalks, bike lanes and murals on the walls on Shotwell Street and all along the building.
“We could take advantage of that to open up an art opportunity,” said Anne Torney, a partner at the design firm Mithun. “This is an opportunity for the Mission to re-assert its identity as a place of vibrant art and community participation.”
Torney added that they hope to team up and work with Precita Eyes Muralists on a mural design.
The first two floors of the building will also be dedicated to community serving programs, such as PODER, Jamestown Community Center and a childcare center. The childcare center will provide services to both the local and community residents with infants to five-year-olds, said Yakuh Askew, principal at Y.A. Studio.
“We really want to activate all street frontages,” Askew said. “We will have a retail corner, which we hope to get a café or a juice bar to really activate that corner [on Folsom]. We want a lot of activity and a lot of eyes on the street and a lot of good public interaction.”
Qualifying applicants for housing will be selected through a lottery system. Applications will be accepted six months prior to the start of construction, which is set to start in late 2017 or early 2018. Those who want to apply for housing can receive help on how to apply at MEDA, located at 2301 Mission St., suite 301.
Story by: Adrian Pintor