As it currently stands, affordable or ‘Below Market Rate’ housing units in San Francisco are allocated by lottery with preferences given to households that hold a rare Certificate of Preference or tenants who have recently been evicted by way of the Ellis Act. And being a resident in the neighborhood where the affordable units are being constructed doesn’t count for anything.
In other words, while the City’s eye-popping project at 490 South Van Ness Avenue is being positioned as a project to address the displacement of Mission residents, there’s currently no guarantee – nor even preference – that current Mission residents, or those who have recently been displaced, will land one of the building’s units. And the same goes for the proposed BMR units associated with the so-called ‘Monster in the Mission.’
But as proposed, a new law would not only expand the eviction preference to include tenants displaced by way of any no-fault eviction, unit merger, or condo conversion since January 1, 2010, it would also create a third preference for ‘residents in the neighborhood’ where the affordable housing is being built.
‘Neighborhoods’ would be broadly defined as San Francisco’s 11 supervisorial districts. And to qualify for the Neighborhood preference, an applicant would have to have a primary residence in the district at the time they apply for a unit.
In addition, the Neighborhood preference would only apply to 25 percent of the units in any new development and would be tertiary to the other two preferences.
Sponsored by the Mayor with Supervisors Breed, Christensen, Cohen and Wiener on board, the proposed ‘Preferences in Affordable Housing Programs’ ordinance has just been scheduled to be reviewed by San Francisco’s Planning Commission in three weeks time.