Mayor Lee Applauds Federal Approval of Anti-Displacement Housing Policy
Seniors at Greatest Risk of Being Forced Out of Western Addition Neighborhood to Receive Priority Placement in Newly Developed Affordable Homes.
Mayor Edwin M. Lee today applauded the significant progress in the efforts to halt displacement of long-time residents at greatest risk of being forced out of San Francisco with the approval of a ground-breaking anti-displacement housing policy issued by the City and approved by the federal government.
Recognizing that San Francisco must act to protect residents being priced out of the City in the current housing environment, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) granted an Anti-Displacement Preference policy for the Willie B. Kennedy Senior apartment complex in Western Addition neighborhood.
In a letter to Mayor Lee, HUD officials agreed to allow 40% of units at Willie B. Kennedy to be prioritized for residents who live in low-income neighborhoods undergoing extreme displacement pressure, as defined by a research analysis conducted by University of California Berkeley.
“This is a lifeline for many seniors in the Western Addition who are hoping to remain in the neighborhood,” said Mayor Lee. “But more importantly, anti-displacement policies like these will help many of our long-time residents stay in the City they know and love.”
Mayor Lee added, “It is with deep appreciation, we acknowledge the collaborative efforts of Secretary Julian Castro, Assistant Secretary Gustavo Velasquez, Board of Supervisors President London Breed, Supervisor Malia Cohen, the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development, and other City staff who worked so hard to craft this groundbreaking policy. I also want to thank Senator Dianne Feinstein and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi for their unwavering support of our efforts, and their commitment to securing the best policy outcomes for our residents.”
“Secretary Castro deserves praise for achieving a solution that ensures San Francisco residents at the highest-risk of displacement due to gentrification have priority in newly developed affordable housing. Today’s achievement would not be possible without the dogged determination of Board of Supervisors President London Breed, and the steadfast efforts of Mayor Lee and the entire City Family,” said Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. “The New Anti-Displacement strategy represents an important step forward for our communities. However, preserving the principle of neighborhood preference will be essential in protecting the rights of local residents to remain in their community. In San Francisco, we know that the beauty is the mix. We must ensure strong, thriving African American and Latino communities always remain a part of the vibrant fabric of our City.”
The newly approved pilot will provide priority access to at least 40% of the 98 senior apartments for low-income seniors living in census tracts that have been identified as having the greatest risk of displacement. These districts are located citywide, and include census tracts in the Western Addition, Bayview, the Mission, the Richmond, Russian Hill, and South of Market neighborhoods.
The approval for this pilot program is the result of months of engagement between United States Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Mayor Edwin Lee, and Board President London Breed with Secretary Castro and HUD’s Fair Housing and Policy Development and Research staff. The City pressed HUD to develop an alternative approach to the City’s Neighborhood Occupancy Preference program.
In lieu of the Neighborhood Occupancy Preference policy originally proposed by the City for the Willie B. Kennedy Senior Apartments, this new meaningful tool will help keep San Francisco diverse. Studies show that low-income residents have been disproportionately impacted by rising market rents in their communities, and that the provision of a carefully crafted preference for deed-restricted housing will provide more choices for those facing displacement due to gentrification.
“I am pleased that the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the City of San Francisco were able to work together to ensure that those most affected by rising housing costs and gentrification in San Francisco will be able to stay in the city,” said U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein. I appointed Willie Kennedy to the Board of Supervisors. She was a good colleague and friend. I think she would be proud not only of the work that has been done to help low-income seniors remain in the neighborhoods they grew up in but also of the progress in the Western Addition, which she represented so well on the Board. I hope that the anti-displacement strategy developed by HUD and San Francisco will serve as a model for other California cities facing similar affordable housing and gentrification challenges.”
“Thank you to all of those who worked so hard to get us here. This is a monumental victory for everyone who – like me – is struggling to stay in San Francisco,” said Board President London Breed. “It was about doing what is right. It was about fighting for a community that’s been there for me since I was a young girl in public housing. Because of our work, the neighborhood residents applying for the Willie B. Kennedy apartments in District 5 right now will be prioritized for an affordable home.”
“San Francisco has once again proven that we are leading the way in the nation with this historic decision by HUD,” said Supervisor Malia Cohen. “The implementation of an anti-displacement preference captures the very spirit of our neighborhood preference legislation and will go a long way to allow residents that wait to remain in San Francisco stay here. We will continue to vigorously fight to ensure that there is equity in access to affordable housing in San Francisco.”
The approved pilot seeks to ensure that as the City evolves, existing low-income residents have access to the opportunities provided through new development and resources that are themselves causing displacement. In addition, the program seeks to minimize the negative impacts that moving out of a neighborhood can have on low income households, including the disruption of social and community networks and access to health care, churches, and other support services. In short, the new Program’s goal is to provide existing low income residents the choice to stay within their communities when market rents rise rapidly, and to benefit from the increased rate of residential development in San Francisco.
“For the first time, HUD had recognized that we must address displacement in cities,” said Olson Lee, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development. “This federal policy, combined with more than 10,000 units of affordable housing units we’re producing by 2020, will make great impacts on stabilizing neighborhoods and providing low-income, minority residents a greater chance to remain in the City. We appreciate the thought and effort that the forward-thinking staff of HUD put into this decision. It is this out-of-the-box thinking and ongoing federal-local partnership that will help solve the hardest challenges facing our city.”