Mayor Lee Announces San Francisco Housing Trust Fund to Boost Production of Middle & Low Income Housing

Mayor, Supervisors Introduce Charter Amendment for November 2012 Ballot in Partnership with Housing Advocates, Developers & Community Leaders to Protect City’s Affordable Housing & Boost Middle Class Housing

5/22/12—Mayor Edwin M. Lee today announced the introduction of a Housing Trust Fund Charter Amendment to the Board of Supervisors to protect family housing in San Francisco. If adopted by the Board and approved by voters, a permanent source of revenue would fund the creation of housing that is affordable to low and moderate households in San Francisco for the next 30 years. The measure is expected to go before voters in November.

“Creating a permanent source of revenue to fund the production of housing in San Francisco will ensure that San Francisco is a viable place to live and work for everyone, at every level of the economic spectrum,” said Mayor Lee. “Creating affordable and middle class housing will also help build our economy and create jobs in San Francisco.”

“San Francisco has a housing affordability crisis,” said Supervisor Scott Wiener, who is co-sponsoring the measure. “Rents are too high, and homes are too expensive. People who live here are having trouble staying, and people who want to come here often can’t. If we don’t address this crisis, our City will be less diverse, and we won’t be able to house our workforce. Our economy will suffer as a result. This trust fund, by funding affordable housing and helping create more housing, will move us in the right direction.”

“This legislation is a work of true progressive problem solving,” said Supervisor Christina Olague, who is co-sponsoring the measure. “I am proud to be part of a group of diverse minds and interests that came together to write forward-thinking policy that will help to keep working people and families in San Francisco.”

The Charter Amendment was developed by the Housing Trust Fund Working Group, a group assembled by Mayor Lee with representatives from different sectors of the real estate industry, including affordable housing developers, market rate developers, realtors, lenders, and small property owners; and members of the Board of Supervisors.

The Group was asked to develop a long-range sustainable plan to stimulate market-rate production, especially in areas planned for growth; increase homeownership opportunities for moderate income households; and fund affordable housing production for lower-income households while not impacting the City’s General Fund.

The Housing Trust Fund will begin with a set aside $20 million in general fund revenue and increase to $50 million over time. If approved by voters, an estimated $1.1 billion will be invested in affordable housing production over the next 30 years. The fund will:
· Develop more than 9,000 units of permanently affordable housing for residents whose average median income (AMI) is 60 percent or below. Those projects include the HOPE SF rebuild of Sunnydale and Potrero, and the Hugo Hotel;
· Invest at least $15 million over the first five years in a down payment assistance program for residents to purchase a home in San Francisco with no-interest loans to first-time homebuyers;
· Create a Homeowner Stabilization Program to help distressed homeowners remain in their homes; and
· Give the City the ability to purchase up to 20% of a development’s units to create permanent below market rate units available for moderate income renters and home buyers.

The Housing Trust Fund will include an increase in former RDA Tax Increment, the addition of a small portion of Hotel Tax that was appropriated yearly for affordable housing, plus an additional $13 million in new General Fund revenue. A companion ballot initiative will be introduced to the Board in June that would increase the real estate transfer tax for transactions involving all properties valued at $1 million or above by 0.2 percent.

With the elimination of the Redevelopment Agency, the City has lost its primary engine for producing affordable housing. In addition, federal funds have declined substantially over the past three years. The Mayor’s Office of Housing projects a 48 percent cut to federal HOME funds, which is one of the primary sources of federal affordable housing funding to San Francisco.

Without a steady source of funding, these cuts could decimate future affordable housing production in San Francisco, an sector that is to a proven economic anchor during a difficult economic climate. After the economic downturn, affordable housing represented 42 percent of the new units produced in 2010. And affordable housing produces more than units, it produces jobs. For every 100 units of affordable housing created, 117 construction jobs and 30 management, maintenance and service jobs are created.

Mayor Lee committed to stablizing and increasing middle to low income housing in his 17-Point Roadmap to Good Jobs and Opportunity.