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San Francisco Establishes Affordable Housing Fund

San Francisco Establishes Affordable Housing Fund

In November 2012, San Francisco voters passed Proposition C, establishing a city-wide affordable housing fund on the enormous margin of 31%.  And it couldn’t have come at a better time. In February 2012, Governor Brown of California, in an effort to slash the state budget, ordered the dissolution of all California Redevelopment Agencies. From an

In November 2012, San Francisco voters passed Proposition C, establishing a city-wide affordable housing fund on the enormous margin of 31%.  And it couldn’t have come at a better time.

In February 2012, Governor Brown of California, in an effort to slash the state budget, ordered the dissolution of all California Redevelopment Agencies. From an urban planning perspective, this was extremely alarming. Losing the Redevelopment Agencies meant losing the primary leader and funder of urban redevelopment (such as infill projects) and affordable housing projects in all of California’s major cities.

Mayor Ed Lee

With this news, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee partnered with affordable housing advocates to create a new affordable housing fund. After enduring 3 months  of campaigning, San Francisco voters approved the following:

  • Funding for 30 years, of up to $51 million/year, to build new affordable housing:
  • Down payment assistance of up to $100,000 for middle-income residents:
  • Foreclosure prevention assistance: and
  • The reduction by 20% on requirements for developers to build on-site affordable housing.

55 Laguna Street

55 Laguna Street, one of the first projects Prop C will fund.

Proposition C’s financial backing comes primarily from the city’s general fund, but Proposition E is also key to the financial sustainability of Proposition C. By reforming the business payroll tax, Proposition E adds another $28.5 million/year to the general fund to help offset the cost of Proposition C. The passing of both these ballots has been a tremendous victory for affordable housing in one of the US’s most expensive cities to live.

Have you been involved in a recent campaign supporting affordable housing? What similarities do you find between other public programs and the one that San Francisco has passed through Prop C?

Credits: Images courtesy of SF Gate and OpenHouse-SF. Data linked to sources.

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Steven Chang was a resident of the San Francisco Bay Area and held a B.A. in Urban Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. His interest in urban planning began in his hometown of Rowland Heights, California (near Los Angeles), when he...

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