Bridging the Opportunity Divide

What Cities Can Learn From San Francisco’s Newest Public Housing Project

May 14, 2014
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What Cities Can Learn From San Francisco’s Newest Public Housing Project
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Instead of kicking its residents to the curb, Hope SF is revitalizing the worst part of the city.

The extreme wealth of Silicon Valley has catapulted real estate prices in San Francisco into exorbitant territory, all while the cost of living continues to rise — reinforcing the City by the Bay’s reputation as one of America’s priciest urban areas.

In fact, a recent study by the Brookings Institute (a nonprofit, independent research organization) found that San Francisco ranks number one for fastest growing income inequality gap in the United States, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

In an effort to keep its low-income residents, city officials have launched the Hope SF campaign, a public housing revitalization initiative to rebuild five of the worst welfare housing sites, turning them into mixed-income communities.

MORE: How Do You Redevelop an Infamous Housing Project? Chicago Has an Idea

Their hope? To provide existing residents a chance at staying put rather than taking a voucher and moving out of the community. Hope SF residents have the option to live onsite during construction and are guaranteed a place in the new housing.

Hunters View is the first site to be redeveloped, according to Fast Company. The project’s design calls for 267 public housing apartments, 83 subsidized units and 450 market-rate homes. Officials broke ground on Hunters View in April and have already completed construction on 107 affordable apartments.

The site initially consisted of 260 units built for shipyard workers after World War II. Although it was eventually transferred to the housing authority, Hunters View was never intended to last more a decade. The new apartments, however, are built to last 75 years.

Rich Gross, the president of Enterprise Community Partners, a company involved in the campaign touts Hope SF as the “single most important urban initiative in the country.” But public housing is just one component of Hope SF’s mission to close the inequality gap. The project is also raising money to fund job-training workshops, community gardens, healthy eating classes and other beneficial programs for residents. For Hope SF, the goal is to give existing residents, who take home an average income of $12,000, a boost to catch up with the rest of the city.

“This is different. There’s a commitment to work with current residents,” Gross said. “This changes a long history of urban renewal.”

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