To an outsider, the snazzy new buildings rising across San Francisco’s Mission District might seem like the latest wave of condos and rentals catering to the young professionals who have long gravitated to the neighborhood.
But they are not. While a few smaller, 20- or 30-unit market-rate buildings have opened over the last two years, all of the larger, new Mission District complexes are subsidized affordable housing, the result of a decades-long push to stop and reverse the displacement of working families in the enclave — which lost about 8,000 Latino families between 2010 and 2020.
Over the last two years, the Mission has seen six new affordable projects totaling 649 units and about $400 million worth of development. This includes a senior building at 1296 Shotwell; and family complexes at 490 South Van Ness Ave., 2828 16th St., 1950 Mission St., 2060 Folsom St. and a smaller 45-unit building at 3031 24th St.
Now, affordable housing builders Mission Economic Development Corp. and the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corp. are finishing up the neighborhood’s latest project: 130 units at 691 Florida St.
While leases have yet to be signed for the Florida Street building, the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development received 7,681 applications from would-be tenants, about 60 for every available apartment. Of the applicants, 1,156 qualify for the city’s neighborhood preference program, which means they live in the supervisor district or within a half mile of the development.
The community garden at 2060 Folsom in San Francisco’s Mission District has 127 apartments for families and transitional-age youth.
Scott Strazzante/The Chronicle
The overwhelming demand — and long-shot odds of landing a unit — shows that the Mission is still in jeopardy of losing the working-class, largely Latino community that defines much of the neighborhood’s vitality, commerce and culture, according to Supervisor Hillary Ronen, who serves the district containing the Mission.
“You can’t undo three decades of gentrification in five to 10 years — it takes time,” said Ronen. “We can’t stop to declare victory. We could still lose the character of the neighborhood in a heartbeat.”
With the 130-unit Florida Street building set to open in the fall, the number of permanently affordable units that will have opened in the neighborhood since early 2020 will rise to 779. Three more projects are on tap: about 300 units at 1979 Mission St., 157 units at 1515 South Van Ness, and 63 condos for sale below market rate at 2205 Mission. All of those are expected to break ground in 2023 and 2024.
As is frequently the case in San Francisco, the politics of Mission housing — the give and take between nonprofit and for-profit, subsidized and privately funded — is complex and often divisive. It was fierce community opposition, led largely by Latino-dominated groups like Mission-based community group the Poder Organization, that derailed market rate projects at both 1979 Mission and 1515 South Van Ness, ultimately forcing the developers to seek other options.
However the properties at 1296 Shotwell, 681 Florida and 1979 Mission were deeded to the city by market-rate developers in order to satisfy the city’s affordable housing requirement.
Poder Organizational Director Antonio Diaz said the movement to protect land from unfettered private development has not only created housing, but also parks and open space for community organizations like his. Poder has a bike repair training facility at 1950 Mission and will be moving …….