Affordable Housing


SFOP represents everyday people. When they speak, elected officials know it is not a special interest. Their voice is authentic.
Douglas Shoemaker, Mayor’s Office of Housing

Why this issue is important

  • A worker earning minimum wage must work over 117 hours/week to afford the average 2-bedroom apartment in San Francisco [1].
  • Only 9% of San Francisco households qualify for the average mortgage[2].
  • In 1996, the median single-family home in the Bayview-Hunters Point cost $129,000. As of January 2008, the median price is $570,000, an increase of 342% [3].
  • 2007 data has shown that petitions for wrongful evictions in San Francisco increased by 5% from 2006 [4].


SFOP’s vision for creating a city for all includes the availability of affordable housing.

Historically, SFOP has organized public housing tenants in BayView and Potrero Hill to fight for better services in their developments. In fact, the first campaign SFOP took on in 1983 was to remove the dumpsters at the public housing complexes, and bring back garbage can pick-up services.

When the dot com boom hit San Francisco in the late 1990’s, the housing market went through the roof and drove thousands of low and moderate income families out of the City. SFOP’s research determined that there were two major barriers to new affordable housing units: (1) lack of federal funds; and, (2) opposition to development.

The SFOP YIMBY Campaign

SFOP launched Yes-In-My-Back-Yard (YIMBY) campaign in 2001 to:

  • Increase local and state resources for affordable housing.
  • Make local policy changes to stimulate more affordable housing development.
  • Identify land near our member institutions to partner with developers in supporting affordable housing development.

Measurable Results

Since 2001, SFOP has partnered with local and state advocates, business leaders, and developers to sponsor two local housing bond measures and two state housing bond measures. Although both local measures failed to get the required two-thirds vote to pass, both state housing bonds passed.

  • San Francisco received $76 million from Prop 46 funds, the Housing and Emergency Shelter Trust Fund Act of 2002, which initiated 1,916 new units of affordable housing.
  • SFOP also worked to pass the City’s Inclusionary housing ordinance that has brought 550 units of privately-developed affordable housing onto the market, and a surplus properties ordinance that set aside 15 parcels of city-owned land to create supportive housing for homeless people.
  • Five SFOP member congregations partnered with affordable housing developers to provide YIMBY support for 489 units of senior and family housing and 4186 units citywide.

SFOP Affordable Housing Timeline

SFOP and allies help ensure that Supervisor Daly’s Affordable Housing Charter Amendment goes before voters in the fall. The Charter Amendment will require the city to spend an estimated $2.7 billion over 15 years to rebuild and restore housing affordable for residents earning less than 80 percent of the city’s median income, or $64,267 for a family of four.

5199 Mission Street Senior Housing includes 37 independent-living units that will be permanently affordable to very low-income seniors. An overwhelming 1,600 seniors applied for the 37-unit apartment.

The Carter Terrace Family Housing developments are six 3-story residential buildings and a common multipurpose building that provide 101 affordable family housing units for the Visitacion Valley and Outer Mission Districts.

8th & Howard is a 162 unit complex serving low-income individuals and working families. A portion of the units are set-aside for persons living with AIDS. The housing also sits above privately-financed commercial space that includes a child-care center, retail outlets and other neighborhood-serving organizations. SFOP began working with developers towards the end of the development process to ensure a wide-range of low-income San Franciscans learned about the site and had access to the units.

In May 2004, SFOP leaders, in coalition with other homeless advocacy groups, successfully worked to ensure the city’s implementation of the Surplus Property Ordinance with a 9-1 vote at the Board of Supervisors. The ordinance requires that all city departments set-aside vacant or underutilized land for the development of permanently affordable housing for homeless and low-income families and individuals.
Prior to the vote, leaders coordinated a community meeting with local officials and 200 community members to advocate for the passage of the ordinance. They presented the latest research concerning the approximately 8, 000 homeless in the city and marched to two surplus property sites. 15 city properties, ranging in size from 1, 000 to 14, 000 square feet, have been set-aside to be developed for housing the homeless and low-income families and individuals.

Providence Baptist Church won a $6 million grant from HUD to build 50 units of senior housing.

In 2002, we placed a $250 million affordable housing bond measure – Proposition B – on the November 5th ballot. Although it did not get the two-thirds vote needed to pass, it did earn 98,424 votes – 56.5% of the vote! Proposition B earned more votes than any other SF bond measure on the ballot. In addition to this, we kept the issue of funding for affordable housing at the forefront of political debate and increased media attention regarding this issue. We also influenced policy changes that require all surplus city land to be used for housing people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, and private developers to set aside a portion of their units for affordable housing.

In February of 2001, we held a citywide event to kick-off our housing campaign and lay out our proposal for improving affordability for low and moderate income families. 3,000 people filled the Masonic Auditorium to celebrate and affirm SFOP’s commitment to researching this issue.

On September 19, 2000, SFOP congregations and community organizations agreed to conduct a 3-month listening campaign to hear from thousands of families throughout the city about their concerns and fears related to housing. We also established a citywide research committee which conducted research on this important issue.

San Francisco Affordable Housing Action Coalition
3 “Major housing measure set for S.F.’s November ballot”, by Wyatt Buchanan, San Francisco Chronicle, January 9, 2008.
San Francisco Rent Board: Annual Statistical Report, FY 2006-07