"This milestone marks the end of many months of hard work by the city and our many partners," said San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee.
"This milestone marks the end of many months of hard work by the city and our many partners," said San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. Image: Bloomberg

San Francisco has completed the transfer of ownership of its public housing sites from the San Francisco Housing Authority to community-based affordable housing teams, part of a long-term bond-financed initiative begun in 2013.

The transfer of all 29 public housing sites and nearly 3,500 units, announced by Mayor Ed Lee Thursday, was part of the 2013 Re-Envisioning Public Housing Plan and the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Rental Assistance Demonstration program, known as RAD. Working with HUD, the city blended two separate kinds of rental subsidies in partnership with eight different community-based, affordable housing development teams. The financing included more than $1 billion of bonds.

With the transfer of ownership and management now complete, all 29 buildings and units can begin repairs to address critical life safety issues such as seismic deficiencies, pervasive mold and mildew, dry rot, deficient elevators, water intrusion, fire alarm systems, fire-damaged units and missing sprinkler systems, the mayor's office said.

"Once again San Francisco is at the forefront of creating innovative solutions to make government programs work better and benefit our most vulnerable residents," said Lee. "For decades, San Francisco's public housing has been underfunded, but today we take a significant step towards revitalizing and rebuilding distressed public housing for our extremely low-income families and residents. This milestone marks the end of many months of hard work by the city and our many partners."

Bank of America Merrill Lynch led that financing, one of the largest RAD transactions.

"Bank of America Merrill Lynch is pleased to continue its work with the City of San Francisco and the San Francisco Housing Authority on the second phase of SF-RAD," said Maria Barry, a community development executive with the bank.

"Our team provided a comprehensive financing solution to rehabilitate nearly 3,500 affordable housing units, utilizing a combination of construction debt, permanent debt, tax-credit equity, subordinate forgivable debt and financing for services for the tenants as part of our continued commitment to help create safe and strong communities."

Lee has made affordable housing a centerpiece of his time as mayor, setting a goal of helping at least 8,000 people permanently exit homelessness by 2020.

"All San Franciscans deserve safe, affordable housing to live in and raise their families," said Olson Lee, director of the Mayor's Office of Housing and Community Development. "By transferring the ownership and management of San Francisco's public housing to our community-based partners, we have permanently preserved the affordability of these buildings, giving our most vulnerable residents assurances they can remain in San Francisco."

The new owners, who specialize in affordable housing, are now in the process of completing over $700 million in deferred repair and capital needs, stabilizing residents' tenancies with professional management and support services, and preserving the units as decent and affordable housing for the city's most vulnerable residents, including seniors, disabled people and families. Half of the projects transferred ownership in November 2015; the other half closed last month.

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