Sep 14, 2023 - News

Officials to propose $300 million bond for low-income housing

Homes in the Richmond district. Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

San Francisco voters may be asked to vote on a $300 million bond in March to help the city reach its ambitious housing goals.

Why it matters: As part of a state-mandated plan, the city must build more than 82,000 new housing units by 2031, but it's currently on pace to take 263 years to meet that goal, according to a recent San Francisco Examiner analysis of federal housing data.

Driving the news: This week, Mayor London Breed and Supervisor Aaron Peskin introduced the housing bond, which would provide funding for affordable housing projects and homeownership programs.

  • Yes, but: To make it on the ballot, the housing bond must receive at least eight votes from the 11-member Board of Supervisors.

By the numbers: The bulk of the funding ($258 million) would go toward building low-income housing, according to the mayor's office.

  • Meanwhile, $30 million would go toward the preservation of existing affordable housing projects and $12 million would go toward homeownership opportunities, like down payment assistance for first-time homebuyers.

Of note: San Francisco has the second-most expensive construction costs ($5,200 per square meter on average) in the world, according to a 2023 analysis from real estate consultancy Turner & Townsend.

What they're saying: "Whether you're a first responder trying to stay in the city, a family struggling to exit a cramped SRO hotel room, or a senior who wants to age in place with dignity, this bond will help realize a pipeline of projects that have the power to transform lives — all without raising property taxes," Peskin said in a written statement.

Context: Earlier this year, California officials approved San Francisco's plan to create more housing by 2031.

  • That plan requires that nearly 46,600 of the more than 82,000 units be for low- and moderate-income households.
  • The proposal for a $300 million bond comes four years after voters passed a $600 million affordable housing bond, the largest bond in the history of San Francisco.

The intrigue: San Francisco voters are also expected to vote on three of the biggest housing bonds in California history next year, Cal Matters reports.

  • Two of them, a $10 billion affordable housing bond and a nearly $4.7 billion housing bond geared toward unhoused Californians, are slated to be on the March 2024 ballot.
  • "It's conventional wisdom that if you put a bunch of bond proposals in front of voters, they get overwhelmed and are like, 'I don't want to pay all of this money, so I don't want to pay any of this money,'" Louis Mirante, a housing legislation lobbyist with the Bay Area Council, told Cal Matters.

What to watch: If the bond gets on the March 2024 ballot, it will need approval by at least two-thirds of voters to pass.


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