San Francisco Introduces New Housing Construction Plan

28/01/2014 4:00 pm

San Francisco New Housing Construction Plan
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee says at least 30,000 more housing units will be added in the city within the next six years as rental and housing costs continue to rise.

Lee said during his State of the City address on Friday that at least one-third of new or rehabilitated housing built by 2020 will be for low- and middle-income families. He hopes it will address San Francisco's housing shortage that's creating more demand and rising costs.

The city has been criticised by many longtime residents and housing advocates who blame rising housing costs on the region's flourishing technology industry. Workers are finding jobs by the bucketful in San Francisco, but housing supply hasn't kept pace. About 4,000 housing units have been added in the past three years, for roughly 10,000 new households, according to the city planning department. This imbalance has fueled what already was one of the nation's most expensive cities: Rents are up 17% over the past three years, and an index of San Francisco home prices from Black Knight Financial Services rose 14.5% in November from a year earlier.

The plan would include building affordable housing on city-owned properties, hiring more staff to speed along permitting for new construction, and exploring affordable-housing incentives for developers. Housing supply will rise sharply in 2014—there are about 6,000 units under construction—but the reality behind Mr. Lee's plan is that any continued boost in housing construction would require the city to overcome a slew of local political forces that are aligned against development, much of the city is a suburban-like expanse of single-family homes and neighbours who want to keep it that way.

Mayor Lee announced that the Obama administration has approved San Francisco’s public housing improvement plan, the largest such plan in the country, by approving a Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD), that will help refinance and preserve up to 4,584 public housing units. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s approval for San Francisco is a crucial first step in Mayor Lee’s Public Housing Re-Envisioning Plan. This approval represents a crucial first step in a three-year process to preserve and rehabilitate up to 41 public housing developments that will improve and upgrade public housing stock for residents. This first step will likely protect San Francisco’s public housing from future federal reductions in funding and will put public housing in San Francisco on a path to preserving the long-term viability of the public housing units and the sustainability of the developments as recommended in the Mayor’s Public Housing Re-Envisioning Plan.