chance martin streetsheet@sf-homeless-coalition.org
Mon, 05 Feb 2001 15:01:49 -0700

Mutual Housing as One Solution
in San Franciscoケs Homelessness and Housing Crisis

A Report by the Coalition on Homelessness, San Franciscoケs
Housing Work Group

January, 2001


Summary of Findings
Why Are So Many People Homeless?
New Model Housing
Mutual/Cooperative Housing
But Where To Put It?
Some Lessons Learned From the Affordable Housing Movement
Non-Restrictive Funding
Jobs and Social Services
Action Steps



The End of Speculation, the Strengthening of Community
Summary of Findings

The End of Speculation, the Strengthening of Community advocates the
creation of community institutions for San Franciscans which can advocate
for and establish mutual, cooperative, land-trust and limited equity housing
as a strategy for the creation and preservation of affordable housing. We
propose the establishment of one or both of the following ideas:

A new San Francisco organization
 which can effectively develop mutual housing and at the same time, advocate
for the political changes needed to establish this model here. The advantage
in this, is that a new organization can develop independently of the
mainstream affordable housing developers increasing the possibility of
innovation. However, new housing organizations lack the track-record and are
often seen as unreliable from funders and government agencies.

Capacity-building in an existing organization.
A progressive non-profit developer may well want to add mutual housing to
itsケ over-all strategy for affordable housing preservation. This option
would take advantage of the experience of such a developer, while expanding
the models currently being used.

A Mutual Housing Braintrust.
We propose a new organization, dedicated to mutual housing models; with a
governance body made of up representatives from organizations such a
involved with tenant organizing, non-profit housing development, housing.
This group could harness the experience of these groups, while building
innovative housing models.
San Franciscoケs housing crisis and resulting homelessness is tied to the
overall global economy and the abandonment of the idea of housing as a basic
human right in public policy; reflected at all levels of government. We have
identified areas which have contributed the most to the creation of
homelessness, not only in San Francisco, but in the rest of the United
States as well. Recent scholarship has proven that the epidemic of
homelessness is directly linked to the shortage of affordable housing
available to very low-income people/ Rampant property speculation has
destroyed such housing in the private market, while two decades of federal
housing budget cuts and privatization measures have eliminated many of the
"steps up" which were used to exit homelessness in the past.

We have also discovered that even in San Francisco there is surplus
government owned land to establish new affordable housing on. The political
will of elected officials has not been to do so. While the traditional
non-profit housing models are valuable, we think that mutual housing adds a
valuable weapon in the fight against homelessness. Even if there were
absolutely no tracts of land available, mutual housing strategies could
still be used to stabilize homes rented by people at risk of displacement.

We have included a list of action steps which would help facilitate the
creation of affordable housing in San Francisco.

Finally, we recommend that any new low-income housing create jobs at a
living wage for their tenants. Healthier neighborhood economies are created
when money circulates in the community rather than leaving it.



The Housing Crisis, intensified by regressive government policies, place
families and individuals on the streets.

Federal Housing Policy Changes
Many New Deal Reforms have been eliminated, creating homelessness.

On the federal level, the 1990ケs were a bad decade for poor people. Changes
in policies from welfare reform to housing to immigrant rights all shared a
newly punitive approach to poverty, including time limits and a loss of the
commitment to a "safety net" that had existed, if inadequately, for over
sixty years.

The federal commitment to providing housing for poor people has ended. In
its place is an emphasis on shelters and transitional housing. It is
important to emphasize that resources allocated to shelter are not housing,
not relevant to discussion of housing for poor people, and are being
inappropriately used as a substitute for the commitment we need to permanent
housing. This discussion will only cover permanent housing.

The steady increase in homelessness in the last two decades is not a
"natural" consequence of changes in the economy. Specific policy changes
have directly contributed to the increase in poverty and the decrease in
affordable or subsidized housing. Increased homelessness is the result.

Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act.
As a companion to the TANF legislation, major changes were made in access to
public housing in 1998. Undocumented immigrants are no longer be eligible
for Section 8 or public housing. Sixty percent of all project-based housing
units are now reserved for households making between 30 and 80% of median
income. This means that there are now 60% less units available for
households making under 30% of median income. This change affects the
neediest families closest to homelessness. Workers making the minimum wage
or those on TANF make around 10% to 13% of the area median income.

This federal program funds renovation and rebuilding of public housing
projects. In practice, this has translated into the destruction of public
housing units which have not been replaced on a one-to-one basis, resulting
in an overall loss in the total number of units available. Some developments
have been reconstructed with less units, while others plan to replace the
low-income units on a one-for-one basis and construct additional mid-income

HUD entered into contracts with private landlords that obligated them to
rent their units to Section 8 tenants after the federal government covered
the cost of rehabilitation and/or renovation. Many of these contracts are
expiring, again resulting in a loss in the overall number of low-cost units

A major strategy in the HOPE VI program is the creation of "public-private"
partnerships in the reconstructed developments. While partnerships with
private developers bring in much-needed capital in the short-term, the
profit motive often creates even more problems. For example, one private
developer moved to strike tenant protections from operating agreements. This
developer sought to convert low-income units to market rate should a tenant
vacate the apartment.

Vouchers Instead of Construction.
In the last decades, U.S. housing policy has shifted from the actual
construction of low-cost housing and subsidies for those units, to the use
of vouchers. HUD has gone out of the housing business. In "tight" markets
such as San Francisco, vouchers are virtually worthless. Low-income tenants
are forced to compete with the affluent for the same scarce housing stock.
Low reimbursement rates makes tenants with vouchers much less attractive to
landlords. These vouchers are time-limited and do not guarantee housing. The
onus is placed on the holder of the voucher to find adequate, available
housing. In a market like San Francisco, this is a set-up for failure.

Wages: The Downward Spiral
The New Economyケs fortunes have not reached those most in need.

In the last thirty years, the value of the minimum wage has steadily
decreased. While in 1968 the minimum wage was 86% of the "living wage," (the
amount necessary to bring a family of four to the federal poverty line), in
1998 it was only 64% of the living wage (Collins and Yeskel, 2000). A person
making minimum wage ($5.75) would need to work for 106 hours per week to
afford a two bedroom unit Fair Market rate apartment in California (National
Low Income Housing Coalition, 2000).

Even a family with two full time wage earners can no longer afford decent
housing without assistance. But in 1995, only about one third of poor renter
households received a housing subsidy from the federal, state or local
government (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 1998).

The engine behind much of this is the global economy-an era of relaxed
restrictions on trade, elimination of labor and environmental regulation and
a general laissez-faire corporate policy. As a result of this and the
accompanying trade agreements, many producers of living-wage production jobs
have moved to Mexico and other so-called "Third World" countries to take
advantage of low-wages and a lack of restrictions.

The result for San Francisco is an abundance of jobs which pay poverty
wages, jobs in the service economy. Instead of a booming port, we have a
Sony Metreon entertainment center. In the place of manufacturing jobs, we
have an economy which is dependent on tourism.

Cuts in welfare programs.
In 1996, Temporary Assistance for Needed Families (TANF) was created,
putting time limits and work requirements on all families receiving federal
cash assistance. Parents with low skills and/or barriers to employment are
being pushed into the workforce, often without the necessary services they
need in order to retain their jobs, such as reliable child care and
transportation. In San Francisco, the average wage in 2000 of parents
leaving welfare was approximately $7 per hour. This leaves an obvious gap
with San Franciscoケs "housing wage" of $28.06 per hour to be able to afford
a two bedroom apartment (San Francisco Department Human Services , 2000;
National Low Income Housing Coalition, 2000).

Other welfare programs have been cut as well. Nationally, General Assistance
programs, which offer cash assistance to single men, have been eliminated or
limited in the majority of states. Changes in SSI eligibility requirements
have made it much harder to obtain or retain benefits, but even if someone
with a physical or mental disability manages to do so, they will receive
less cash assistance per month in California than the amount necessary for
rent alone in a one bedroom apartment in California (NLIHC, 2000).

Poverty Rates and Poor Renters.
At least partially as a result of the programs outlined above, the total
number of low-income renters increased almost 70 percent between 1970 and
1995, while the number of affordable housing units fell. In 1970, there were
300,000 more low-income tenants than low-income units. Since then , the
number of low-cost rental units has fallen to 6.1 million, while the number
of low-income renters rose to 10.5 million.  The result: a shortage of 4.4
million affordable units, the largest on record. In 1995, there were nearly
two low-income renters for every low-cost unit (CBPP, 1988).

Again, this is no accident. Until 1995, Congress had increased rental
assistance for "worst case" housing needs every year. Since 1995, that has
been reversed. The total number of new housing commitments by HUD from
1982-1997 was smaller than the number of commitments made in five years
from 1977-1981 (HUD, 1997).

Percent of Income Spent on Rent.
As the value of wages stagnate and fall, and the availability of subsidized
affordable housing decreases, the percentage of income low-income renters
have to spend on housing rises. In 2000, San Francisco had the largest
change in the "housing wage" in the entire country, more than 20% (NLIHC).
Wages did not increase accordingly. Nationwide, more than three fifths of
poor renters spend over 50% of their income on rent (CBPP). It was the
Reagan Administration that set the standard that in order for housing to be
"affordable" for a household, the household must not pay more than 30% of
their income in rent. For the majority of renters who pay most of their
income towards rent, they inevitably either fall behind on their rent or
cannot pay for other essentials. The result is a slow slide toward bad
credit, evictions, and homelessness. A single traumatic event, such as
losing a job or an illness can cause someone to become homeless in these

San Franciscoケs local government has ignored long-term strategies against

Even under the most progressive city administrations, a housing crisis would
persist in San Francisco. Property speculation, the practice of buying
property only to sell it again is at an all time high fueled by the
"dot.com" economy. Evictions have skyrocketed as our city becomes the
preferred residence of the newly affluent. We are seeing the reversal of the
"white flight" of the 1950ケs which created the suburbs. Throughout most of
the 1990ケs we have had a nearly non-existent vacancy rate.

Instead of creating public policy which could blunt these effects, city
administrations under three separate mayorケs have pursued a housing strategy
which has intensified the housing crisis. Almost all of the new development
has been high-end, in the form of luxury live/work lofts and condominiums
and single family homes. At the heart of the problem is that San Francisco
has a job-housing ratio of 9:1. The explosion of live/work lofts in
converted warehouse districts has eliminated blue-collar jobs, accessible to
those without college education or technical training.

Absent of innovative, balanced, urban planning initiatives, rent control
remains the only buffer between low-income families living in the private
market and homelessness. Time and again, the Board Of Supervisors has voted
down or watered down significant improvements to the Rent Arbitration and
Stabilization Ordinance.

In 1998 an 1999 a epidemic of suspicious fires swept through several Single
Room Occupancy (SRO) hotels destroying hundreds of apartments. SROケs are
often the last resort for people living in poverty. Originally intended for
single men, many families are turning to these cramped (sometimes as small
as 5ケ5") quarters for shelter. Hotel operators often kick tenants out every
28 days, a practice dubbed musical rooms, in order to deny residency
protections under the Rent Code.

The stage for gentrification was set in the 1960ケs and 1970ケs when the
Redevelopment Agency administered "Urban Removal" programs decimated
working-class communities of color . The federally sponsored and locally
administered programs demolished thousands of units of housing in the
Fillmore, Western Addition, South of Market and Manilatown neighborhoods.
The decrease in supply left the city even more vulnerable in times of
economic boom.

New Model Housing 
Community Input in this Feasibility Study

Homeless People Ask For A Back-To-Basics Approach
Permanent Housing, Living Wage Employment, Safety and Control Of Their

Throughout, 2000 the Coalition On Homelessness has explored the feasibility
of innovative models of low-income housing development and management. We
have challenged ourselves to design housing that is:

o Truly low-income;
o Permanent;
o Free of restrictive HUD funding;
o Designed with tenant participation;
o A source for resident training and employment at a living wage.

What we have discovered that such housing is possible, even with the soaring
rents and shortage of land in our Bay Area. This reports makes several
recommendations on how to house those in need.

The COH was formed in 1987 by a group of homeless and formerly homeless
individuals working in front-line service jobs in San Franciscoケs low-income
Tenderloin neighborhood. The COH was created to organize other homeless
people in the struggles to affect systemic change, and create economic
justice by proactively addressing the root causes of homelessness and

From March through May 2000, the COH consulted with low-income people, many
homeless and formerly homeless, to gather their input about what kinds of
low-income housing should be built in San Francisco. Not surprisingly, they
suggested many innovative models of housing which could cut, bureaucracy,
emphasize community economic uplift and move towards long-term solutions for
homelessness and poverty.

The community-based organizations participating in these sessions were:
Youthworks, Homeless Prenatal Program, Poor Magazine, and the San Francisco
Conservation Corps. We have also incorporated points from our "Action Plan
to End Homelessness" which reflected the input of 350 homeless people. We
have also studied and drawn out points from "The Human Technologies Plan"
drafted by tenants in the North Beach Public Housing Tenants Association.

The full text of the survey is printed as an appendix. The key points of the
survey are as follow:

Least-restrictive admissions policy.
Only ability to pay rent and be a good neighbor should be considered. No
discrimination on the basis of immigration, gender/sexuality, race etc.
Since new federal regulations institute strict barriers in regards to income
and immigration status, non-restrictive modes of funding must be developed.

Balance Community Safety and Civil Liberties.
Many individuals who had lived in public housing felt caught between the
need to be safe from violent crimes and the over-reaching and frequently
abused eviction laws such as HUDケs "One Strike" policy.

More Tenant Control.
Most tenants felt that they could do a good job at self-management of the
properties if given the proper support. Not only could this be a means of
empowerment but a source for on site employment as well.

Cooperative Ownership.
Overwhelmingly, we were instructed to explore cooperative ownership
arrangements as a means of maintaining affordability.

Permanent Family-Sized* Housing Now !-Break the Transitional Housing Cycle.
Many who participated in our survey had successfully completed transitional
housing programs, only to find themselves homeless again. The reason ? In
San Franciscoケs housing market, there simply are few places to "transition"
to! Nearly every single participant urged the development of permanent,
family housing; with services traditionally linked with transitional housing
available to those who need them.

In addition, we have visited sites and organizations in Chicago, and
consulted with others in North Carolina, Seattle, and Virginia. As we will
read, the experiences of these cities show real-life examples of housing
models which incorporate the above points.

* We use the term "Family-Sized" because we consider families to be any
group of people who live with and care for each other, on a long-term basis.

Mutual/Cooperative Housing

"Low income people have developed into stakeholders in their buildings and
their communities as well; thanks to community land-trusts. Owning your home
collectively means that your family gains equity and can help as a
transition out of poverty and even sometimes into the traditional housing

-Charles Daas, Executive Director Chicago Mutual Housing Association

Mutual and Cooperative Housing-
An Idea Whose Time Has Come-Again.

Only models of housing which prevent property speculation provide the
resource of housing in a permanent, sustainable way. The public housing
model attempted to do this in a limited fashion; the government bankrolled
the construction and subsidy of housing in order to stimulate job growth and
achieve rent stabilization in the larger market by increasing the supply of
rental housing.

The Coalition on Homelessness maintains that all levels of government should
be committed to producing housing; especially for those most in need.

The ideas of cooperative housing are of course, nothing new. Forms of
cooperative housing have existed in "North America" for centuries  in Native
American cultures. Even settlers took advantage of homesteading laws,
allowing them to live in unused homes; often living cooperatively. Through
the 1930's and 1960's many housing cooperatives were established.

Cooperative housing is not a perfect model and may not be for everyone...
However, this model seems to be the most viable option for affordable
housing for several reasons.

o Cooperative Housing prevents property speculation and preserves
affordability , 
o Creates opportunities for community  and economic development,
o Requires lower ongoing subsidy commitments,
o Does not require many restrictions upon tenants, or tenant selection
   criteria, thus preserving accessibility.

Nationwide, cooperatives succeed when they have adequate support from both
government entities and the surrounding communities.

An ambitious cooperative housing program has the potential to build
political consensus. It incorporates aspects of first time home-buyer
programs; popular among conservatives. The collective aspects appeal to
those on the left. Outside the realm of political debate, cooperatives make
good economic and social sense and several exist in San Francisco already.

Below are brief summaries of the most common forms of cooperative housing;
or mutual housing, as now currently referred to .

Definition of Cooperative Housing.
In almost any form of cooperative housing the cooperative owns the building,
and tenants buy shares. Each shareholder occupies one apartment, a
shareholder can be an individual or a family.  An Occupancy Agreement lays
out terms of residency and an elected Board Of Directors, upholds by-laws
and over-sees operations of the cooperative housing.

Limited Equity Cooperatives.
Limited Equity is a form of ownership where tenants own a limited share in
the development; but the cooperative association retains the majority

In order to prevent property speculation, there must be strict restrictions
on the resale value of the share; outlined in the occupancy agreement.
Generally, the "buy in" is comparable to that of a security deposit in a
private apartment. The exact formulas may vary from site-to-site. Each
cooperative sets its own affordability return investment goals, which
enables this model to be adapted to a variety of income levels. Upon leaving
resident is entitled return of share. The lower the return of investment,
the more affordable it is in the future.

St. Francis Square, in San Francisco's Western Addition/Fillmore
neighborhood, is an example of a successful Limited Equity Cooperative. St.
Francis Square contains 299 family sized apartments in fifty, 3 story
walk-up buildings. 

David Freelander, President of St. Francis Square is still an enthusiastic
supporter of coops, nearly thirty years after the founding of his. "The
original cooperative idea had two purposes: to provide community so people
could know neighbors and raised their children in safe place while building
wealth for people with little means. It is a simple way for low and mid
income people to gain equity in their building. St. Francis Square is
tremendously successful, some three generations have raised their children
here. "

Freelander advocates that organized labor rededicate itself to solving the
housing crisis for working families. "The working people have the need, and
can be provided the opportunity for affordable housing. In the case of St.
Francis Square, the International Longshoremen and Warehousemen Union
provided the seed money and HUD guaranteed the loan. The federal government
hasn't given us money, simply guaranteed the loan."

Can cooperatives be used as a strategy against gentrification? "We need to
proliferate cooperatives, San Francisco might be in much different shape if
we had created more of them," Freelander said. "Our original residents paid
into the coop for $400.00, and a share is worth much more than that now.
Still cooperative housing is a dream that needs to grow to survive."

Northridge Cooperatives in San Francisco's Bay view District is a limited
equity coop and was built in the late 70's. It contains three hundred
families, accepts Section 8 vouchers, and takes 30% of a tenants' income for
rent." Northridge cooperative member Malik Rahim explains "Cooperative
housing is the only real assurance that a person can remain in San
Francisco. If there is to be a presence of comments of color left in this
city, Blacks and Latinos especially, then coops will have to become the

Community Land-Trust
Similar to a Limited-Equity cooperative a Land-trust separates ownership of
land from ownership of building and improvements.  The CLT holds the title
to the land, and leases it to the cooperative cooperation. Some leases reach
up to 99 years, with regular review points. The nature of the rental
agreement prevents anyone from removing affordability controls. In the event
that  anyone decides to move, the CLT has first right of refusal to buy back
the unit and re-sell it at an affordable rate.

"Without Land-Trusts we would have homelessness and abandoned properties.
Low-income people would have an extremely difficult time finding affordable
housing." remarked Sonjia Gipson, Project Manager for the North Camden
Community Land-Trust in Camden, New Jersey.

Scattered Site Cooperatives
Scattered-site cooperatives are popular where large tracts of land are hard
to find. Scattered-site coops are placed in various locations but share
ownership and support services. They can be the basis for community
development such as job training, management services, outreach, waiting
lists, group buying plans. As noted elsewhere in this report, there is
surplus land, even in San Francisco, that could be used to build new
low-income and affordable housing. Since these plots are placed in a variety
of neighborhoods; scattered-site cooperatives make sense as a possible
strategy here.

But Where To Put It?
Local, State, and Federal Properties Could Be Used For Housing

Surplus Property. 
As part of this program, the Coalition On Homelessness surveyed properties
owned by local, state, and federal governments. On the local state and
federal  levels, there are hundreds of thousands of square feet of "surplus"
property, not including potential air rights.  Such properties are located
in a variety of neighborhoods from the affluent Pacific Heights to the
low-income Bay View area. Currently many of these structures are vacant or
under-utilized. Securing these sites for low-income housing will be a tough
political battle, so we will not list the exact addresses here.

CAL-Trans, the state transportation authority has owned dozens of
properties, declared surplus within San Francisco. Recently, a good many of
these properties, along the soon to be demolished Octavia Boulevard stretch
of the  Central Freeway,  have been acquired by the City Of San Francisco.
For what use is unclear as of this writing. However, the development of the
central freeway will have ripple affects in the neighborhoods it now
divides. If truly affordable housing is not included in this development,
then the demolition of the Central Freeway will become an engine for further
gentrification and displacement.

State law.
State Law (SB-120 1992 ) allows for surplus city property be leased to
organizations intending to house homeless people for $1.00 a year. With many
dozens of such property within our city limits, it is obvious that political
will has been the prime barrier to developing housing here.

Federal law.
Enforce Proposition L. In 1996, San Francisco voters overwhelmingly approved
Proposition L, which urged City officials to leverage the inclusion of
low-income housing a the Presidio, a de-commissioned Army base. The Presidio
is governed by the Presidio Trust, mandated by the federal government to use
the scenic properties to maximum profits.

Presidio Trust officials view themselves as autonomous from the larger San
Francisco, able to make the sole decisions for the future of this public
resource. Thus far the only low-income housing included has been
transitional and short-term The City and County of San Francisco should take
the trust at itsケ word and refuse all city services, to the Presidio until
homeless families are given a portion of the housing as permanent

Some Lessons Learned From
The Affordable Housing Movement

A Short History of The Movement In San Francisco

The strategy of using non-profit developers to create and maintain much
needed housing is a common form of public/private partnership in most major
cities. The movement, as we know it now emerged largely from the community
organizing efforts against the "urban renewal/removal" programs of the
1960ケs and 70ケs. Overall, there are about 11,000 permanent subsidized
housing units in  San Francisco, not counting units operated by the San
Francisco Housing Authority. (SFHA)

One prominent non-profit developer, Tenants and Owners Development
Corporation (TODCO) was established when a lawsuit forced the San Francisco
Redevelopment Agency (SFNRA) to commit to funding the development or
rehabilitation of 1,500 to 1,800 affordable housing units. At that time,
much of the South Of Marketケs affordable housing stock had been decimated by
a vicious corporate land-grab, financed by the federal government and
administered by the local Redevelopment Agency, entailing demolition and
displacement of long-time residents. Such housing was replaced by a
convention center, luxury hotels, and eventually museums and the gigantic
Sony Metreon Center. The lawsuit and community organizing spearheaded by
Tenants and Owners Opposing Redevelopment, (TOOR) TODCOケs predecessor,
succeeded in saving a portion of the working-class character of that area.

Mission Housing and Development Corporation (MHDC), the Mission Districtケs
largest landlord was established as a result of the organizing struggles of
the Mission Coalition Organization (MCO) which successfully fought
gentrification and urban renewal/removal programs in the neighborhood during
the 1970ケs.

The Strengths Of Non-Profit Developers
The strengths of non-profit housing are simple: rents are affordable, the
buildings tend to be better maintained, a levels of public safety tend to be
much higher than comparably priced, for-profit developments. Non-profit
developers increase the supply of affordable units through new construction;
and often help to preserve existing stock through rehabilitation. Many
non-profits provide some sort of supportive services and play a role in
larger economic development efforts in the neighborhood. The fact that many
of these organizations arose from community struggles implies that the
various levels of government have been forced to concede the creation of
housing; in San Francisco it seems that no square inch of real-estate is
used for community needs without a fight and adequate community institutions
to maintain these gains. Non-profit housing works because it shields tenants
from the effects of the market.

Political Challenges Facing Non-Profit Housing
The battle to develop new affordable housing is a political one which
non-profit developers are loosing for the most part. However, with any
challenges there are opportunities to expand this valuable resource. The
loss of affordable housing from HOPE VI, Section 8 expirations and evictions
in the private market for profit has been swifter than the non-profit
communities ability to replace them.

City Land-Use Agenda Set By For Profit Developers
During the past ten years, most of the Cityケs land-use polices have been
dictated by the for-profit developer lobby which has dominated decisions at
the Planning Commission and the Board Of Supervisors. In neighborhoods such
as South of Market and Mission, most of the available land has been used for
high-end development such as lofts which start at 500,000 a unit. In some
cases, developers have violated existing laws and taken surplus government
owned land for market-rate housing.

If non-profit developers are to compete, then they must be able to act
politically, since the processes that determine land-use in a city such as
ours are explicitly political.

Section 8 Expirations and Opt-Outs
In San Francisco, around 9,000 units of project based Section 8 developments
owned by for-profit developers. are endangered due to owner-opt outs of the
program, expiring contracts and building sales. Community groups, working
with the Redevelopment Agency, have so far saved about 800 such homes
through transfer to non-profit developers. Most of these homes are
family-sized and if allowed to rise to market-rate rents, homelessness and
displacement will certainly follow. The mutual housing model could easily
complement others in order to save this valuable housing stock.

Problems In Non-Profit Housing
A survey conducted for this report revealed that Non-profit housing
providers in San Francisco are no stranger to eviction proceedings. Our
survey looked at 10 providers of permanent housing and the rates in which
eviction notices are filed in municipal court. We found that almost every
single housing provider uses evictions on a monthly basis. Since our study
did not correlate all of the factors (screening, services provided) we will
not name names of specific providers who have unusually high eviction rates.
However, ones such as Mission Housing and Development (MHDC) who have
functional tenant associations have remarkably low eviction rates. This
suggests that democratic tenant practices may also make sense in terms of
retention and long-term tenancy.

Non-profit housing development is a valuable tool to end homelessness.
Without it, the affordable housing stock would be subject only to market
pressures. However, it canケt prevent homelessness on itsケ own and since many
non-profits are dependent on government funding, the agencies are often
absent from needed community struggles to save more housing.  Mutual housing
would complement the development of non-profit housing, since it relies on
fewer government funds in the long-term.
Non-profit housing providers in San Francisco once had consensus that it was
the goal of their movement to add additional affordable housing to the
existing stock. As a result of the HOPE VI program, many non-profits are now
participating in partnerships to rebuild public housing. Since not all of
these projects involve new affordable units, this represents a departure
from the original mission. This mission could only be accomplished as long
as HUD was willing to fund new construction. As HUD changed, the non-profits
were forced to as well.

Non-Restrictive Funding

As detailed earlier, federal restrictions attached to housing subsidies have
gained numerous restrictions, which challenge non-profit housing developers
who wish to provide housing to any tenant in need. At this point in time, it
seems impossible to fully fund a large affordable housing project completely
divorced from restrictive HUD funding. However, there are strategies that
may provide partial liberation from regressive and discriminatory federal
regulations. We have said that building and operating affordable housing is
an specifically political act, whether or not the housing provider views it
as such. Such developments can not exist separately from efforts to restore
funding for affordable housing construction and subsidy, free of barriers
rooted in institutional racism and classism.

The following is a list of strategies currently in use to provide
non-restrictive funding to non-profit developers. Each model has itsケ
strengths and itsケ drawbacks; as the affordable housing community is being
forced to be highly creative in the ways it pays the bills.

Sweat Equity. 
Sweat Equity is a model where tenants gain equity in the building through
work, which is a perfect fit in mutual housing arrangements. More
traditional non-profit housing providers have also created work for rent
programs as well, to varying degrees of success. The Community Housing
Partnership (CHP) used a related model where a group of homeless people are
incorporated into the workforce one a rehabilitation of a residential hotel,
then given jobs within CHP.

Smaller and Simpler.
The smaller the development, the easier it is to live without federal
funding. Buildings under 20 units are prime for sweat-equity arrangements.

Tax Credits. 
The sale of low-income housing tax-credits will likely remain a way of
building affordable housing, but it is not a subsidy source. Many providers
have pointed out to us that once restrictive HUD funding is used, it taints
the entire project, so avoiding it in construction, can provide greater
latitude later in the project.

Foundation Funding.
Progressive funders can subsidize sweat-equity programs, enabling their
money to empower and shelter at the same time. "I hate to use this
terminology but the 罫ate of returnケ is much higher. We encourage
foundations and donors to think about funding people, and communities, not
programs." Remarked Matt Starr of CHP.

Partial Federal Funding.
Some non-profit housing developers have only applied federal Section 8
funding to a portion of their units. This allows them flexibility  in
admissions in their other units, especially in regards to sheltering
immigrants. The drawbacks have been that while individual units can draw
from a variety of funding sources, electricity and plumbing, and social
services connect the entire development. Numerous housing developers we have
spoken with held out hope that by using scattered-site models, these
barriers could be overcome. Traditionally, HUD has frowned upon using
proceeds from one development to subsidize another, although the legality is
unclear in the case of scattered site.

Labor/Community Partnerships.
The AFL-CIO Housing Construction fund has been used in partnership with
non-profit housing developers to provide housing close to where workers are
employed. In San Francisco, the United Farm Workers bought an entire
project-based Section 8 development in which the landlord was about to hike
rents to market rate. By doing so, the union secured a return on their
pension investments and saved long-time San Franciscans from displacement
and possible homelessness.

Inclusionary Housing.
"Inclusionary" models of housing development are ones in which market-rate
housing includes a percentage of affordable and low-income units in the
development. Supervisor Mark Leno has introduced legislation which would
require 12% of all live/work developments to be affordable. We advocate a
model which would require  all market-rate housing to provide at least 20%
affordability rates, with 8% set aside for extremely low-income groups. Many
non-profit housing advocates predict that under President Bush, federal
housing programs will be changed into Block Grants for states. This would
result in a loss of funding and an elimination of guarantees that the money
would actually be used for housing. In this scenario, inclusionary housing
will be an important way of generating new affordable housing.

Jobs and Social Services

Many participants recommended that transitional housing and permanent
housing be combined into a single program. With land in short supply it is
possible to be without permanent housing to "transition" to.  Many people
expressed frustration at cycling back into homelessness after their stay in
transitional housing.

Transitional housing is a very expensive form of shelter, that is based on
the assumption that homeless people "settle in" to living inside before they
can take on the responsibility of tenancy.  This a faulty assumption that
has long been disproved by such organizations as the Community Housing
Partnership, which moves homeless people straight off the streets into
permanent housing-and they are able to maintain that housing.

In addition, transitional housing programs have succeeded in removing
valuable housing units off the rental market. Tenants of transitional
housing have no tenant rights; they can be easily evicted with limited due
process. Lastly, when residents reach the end of their limited stay, they
must not only move, but they often cannot find a place to live and often
times return to homelessness.

Participants were adamant however, that services traditionally associated
with transitional housing were necessary. The services identified most often

o Job development 
o Harm reduction and drug treatment programs.
o Childcare
o Creative arts programs
o Counseling
o G.E.D/High School Diploma training.
o Various peer-support programs. (hence the need for community space)

Lakefront SRO Collaborative
The most impressive program for job and service provision we have seen is
the Lakefront SRO Collaborative, in Chicago. Most of Lakefrontケs services
are offered in partnership with other agencies such as the Chicago Community
College system. This arrangement allows Lakefront to offer many services to
the surrounding community, not just tenants. This kind of community-building
can help establish wide support for affordable housing in general.

One of Lakefrontケs finest developments is the "South Loop Apartments" a 207
units new construction. On the ground floor is a Job Training and Employment
Center.. Built into the site was a fully staffed computer lab, a carpentry
shop and other classrooms. During our visit we witnessed classes held in
collaboration with trade-unions and other community professionals. Lakefront
says that over half of its residents get jobs at living wages. The
organization also provides wrap-around case-management, mental health and
other social services; all within the context of permanent housing.

POOR Magazine is a publication published by and for homeless and formerly
homeless people. It covers almost every aspect of life in poverty while
attempting to shift the debate around class in our society. During our
survey session with this group, they emphasized the need for space for such
efforts. There is a true impulse towards creative money making endeavors
among those we surveyed. Other ideas offered was on-site childcare, run by
residents working at a living wage, small business incubators and the rental
and operation of community centers as a revenue source.

Action Steps 
Local Steps Towards Mutual/Cooperative Housing in S.F.

Create A Local Mc.Kinney Act
Under the federal Mc.Kinney Act, federal  surplus property was supposed to
be leased to non-profit developers providing housing to homeless people for
$1.00 a year. This law was widely ignored. However, a local Mc.Kinney Act
could set-aside surplus city owned property and establish a process for
re-zoning, when necessary.  A portion of this land should be set-aside for
mutual housing.

Create a Mutual Housing Superfund
For an excellent  model of Mutual Housing efforts-San Franciscans need look
no farther than across the Bay Bridge-to Oakland California. In August 2000,
the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation held the Western Regional Summit
on Housing and Wealth Accumulation to address the national housing crisis.

Showcased at the conference was a new program to bring Community Land Trusts
to West Oakland. With a $500,00 contribution from the Fannie Mae Foundation
to the Community Bank of the Bay, the Northern California Land Trust will be
able to access a line of credit. These funds will be used to preserve
affordable housing in a neighborhood threatened by gentrification.

San Francisco could indeed adapt this model to preserve and expand housing
opportunities on this side of the bay as well. A fund for mutual housing
could begin with substantial seed money and matched with donations from
private sources, foundation and other revenues.  San Francisco must
establish firm goals of assisting the stabilization of many more thousands
of units of affordable housing than is currently in the pipeline.

Saving Endangered Federally-Subsidized Housing Through Cooperatives.
Currently their are 9,000 project based Section 8 homes in danger of
extinction. In the past, private landlords received construction or
acquisition subsidies in return for accepting low-income families through
the project based Section 8 program.
New federal legislation has allowed landlords to opt-out of their
obligations to accept low-income, subsidized tenants, if they repaid their
loans in full. In addition many Section 8 contracts are expiring; and many
landlords are exiting the program citing inadequate federal subsidy.

Community and tenant groups, along with the Redevelopment Agency are working
to transfer some of the properties into non-profit hands. This is to be
applauded, but current funding levels will only save about 1,700 households.
Where there is tenant support for such an option, cooperative, mutual and
land-trust options must be pursued. Project based Section 8 programs are a
major source of housing for low-income families and senior citizens.

In 1998, a group of tenants living at North Beach Public Housing designed a
plan for cooperative ownership and management of their development. NBPH
tenants had been organized to safeguard against displacement due to planned
demolition and redevelopment of their homes.  The plan included substantial
programs for resident self-sufficiency. However, the San Francisco Housing
Authority refused to implement the resident's plan; loosing an opportunity
to further innovative housing models.

Reform the Mayors' First Time Home Buyer program to favor tenants attempting
to cooperatively buy out buy out homes they currently live in.

Under the current rules, outside prospective home-buyers could end up
evicting current tenants. Full funding and technical support provided to
low-income applicants especially those in danger of homelessness if

Expand the City's Master-Leasing program to include Cooperatives
Currently, San Francisco master-leases Single Room Occupancy (SRO) hotels as
a method of stabilizing the buildings. The program has been successful in
that it is designed to prevent "musical room" evictions which are designed
by landlords to prevent tenants from being protected by the Rent Ordinance.

In Chicago, the master lease program has been used in an innovative way. The
contract with the property owner includes an option to buy on the part of
the city a non-profit housing provider. (In San Francisco, the city does
reserve the right of first refusal in case the building is sold.) During the
time of the lease, the capacity to cooperatively manage and run their own
buildings is developed.

We propose that a similar pilot program be developed in San Francisco, in
order to determine the viability of future projects such as this.  We also
recommend that the city expand the program to include non-SRO buildings in
order to expand the availability of housing to families; currently excluded
from the master-leased properties.


Originally published July, 2000 STREET SHEET

From March though May 2000, the Coalition on Homelessness consulted with
members of our base community to gather their input as to what kinds of new
low-income housing need to be built. Not surprisingly, the lived experience
of members of our communities is backed up by several large-scale housing
and homelessness studies. However, the conclusions were often drastically
different - suggesting innovative models of housing which tend to cut
bureaucracy, emphasize community economic uplift, and move towards long-term
solutions for homelessness and poverty.

For the purposes of this report our base community included anyone who would
be likely to apply for new low-income housing and anyone at risk, currently
or formerly homeless. Frontline social service providers also sat in these
dialogues and contributed valuable input. Some findings are also derived
from The Coalition On Homelessness' Action Plan to End Homelessness, which
was the result of extensive outreach in San Francisco's shelter system. The
original Action Plan was worded mostly as demands to existing government
agencies and housing providers. In this report they have been reworded to
reflect goals for our new housing model. (e.g. 'We demand that the evictions
of immigrants from public housing must be stopped' changed to 'Immigration
status will not be a barrier to residency in the new housing'.)

The community-based organizations participating in these discussions were
Youthworks, Homeless Prenatal Program, Poor Magazine, North Beach Public
Housing Tenants Association, and students at the San Francisco Conservation
Corps Learning Center.

Ownership and Management
In most of the sessions, it was agreed that the level of tenant
participation in the ownership and management had to be more extensive than
in any existing non-profit housing development.

Cooperative Housing, Land Trust, and Non-profit Housing arrangements could
empower tenants and remove housing from the speculative market, thereby
stabilizing communities and individual lives.

Rent should be no more than 30% of one's income. Federal guidelines, which
reflect a portion of the area's median income, can still price many
low-income folks out of housing, - especially in areas such as San Francisco
with so many high-paid technology workers competing for available housing.

Admissions and Evictions
The admissions process will assume that all people have a right to housing
regardless of immigration status, gender/sexuality issues, race, religion
etc. Admissions would employ the least intrusive process possible,
determining only ability to pay rent and be a good neighbor.

To prevent on-site evictions, a comprehensive intervention program should be
implemented to resolve those problems that could lead to an eviction. Clear
steps and process should provide remedies at every step of the way, except
in cases where a clear danger to other tenants exists.

Substance use should not be a barrier to housing unless abuse becomes a
barrier to remaining a good tenant.

Give currently homeless people priority in new housing. Units should be set
aside for tenants who became homeless due to HOPE VI, the Quality Housing
and Work Responsibility Act, and HUD's "One Strike" policy.

Tenant rights are spelled out in a contract at the beginning of tenancy.
Tenant rights begin on the first day of residency.

The new building's policies will recognize that over-night guests are a
privilege of tenancy. No one will be charged extra for a guest. A
tenant-based visitor policy will be instituted, similar to that in private
housing. (10 days for example) Guests will be expected to abide by all house

Rent will be raised only to keep pace with upkeep costs, and at a rate no
more than that allowed by the Rent Arbitration and Stabilization Ordinance.

Community safety and civil liberties must be balanced in a coherent
screening and eviction policy. Many respondents who had lived in public
housing felt caught between the need to reduce crime and over-reaching and
frequently abused eviction laws like HUD's "One-Strike" policy

All developments must include a large percentage of family housing.
Developments must have a social space or community room.
Private bathrooms and restrooms and community kitchens were recommended.

Many participants recommended that transitional housing and permanent
housing be combined into a single program. With dwindling public housing
opportunities, it is an increasingly common dilemma to be without permanent
housing in which to "transition." Many people expressed frustration at
cycling back into homelessness after staying in transitional housing.

Transitional housing is a very expensive form of shelter, based on the
assumption that homeless people must "settle in" to living inside before
they can take on the responsibilities of tenancy. This faulty assumption has
long been disproved by such organizations as Community Housing Partnership,
which moves homeless people directly from the streets into permanent housing
- and successfully helps them to maintain that housing.

In addition, transitional housing programs have succeeded in removing
valuable housing units from rental market. Tenants of transitional housing
have no tenant rights, and they can be easily evicted with limited due
process. Finally, when transitional housing residents reach the end of their
limited stay, they not only must move, but they often cannot find another
place to live. Often they return to homelessness.

Participants were adamant, however, that services traditionally associated
with transitional housing were necessary. The services identified most often

o Job development 
o Harm reduction and drug treatment programs.
o Childcare
o Creative arts programs
o Counseling
o G.E.D/High School Diploma training
o Various peer-support programs

There is debate about supportive housing arrangements which needs further
exploration. Some uphold having a large host of services on-site. Others say
this can deplete the surrounding community of services.  Study participants
said that they favored advocating for neighborhood support services whenever

Community members all agreed that low-income housing is a great opportunity
for job development at every step of the process. Specifically, job
development should:

o be linked to job opportunities on site such as desk staff, maintenance,
and support services.
o help bridge the "digital divide" by providing training for living wage
jobs through on-site-job training or partnerships with progressive
job-readiness organizations.
o provide opportunities for resident owned cooperative businesses and
community banking. (Partnerships with credit unions were suggested.)
o offer on-site child care, providing jobs for residents.
o partner with organized labor in the service sector to create jobs and
obtain funding with reciprocal relationships. (Some of the participants in
the Homeless Prenatal Program session were members of unions in the service
sector but still faced homelessness on a regular basis!)

Community members also expressed frequent resentment that the current
welfare-to-work opportunities provided drastically limited choices. While
maintenance jobs must be available, many are interested in graphic design,
skilled union labor, journalism and other trades.

Through an adequately-funded program tenants will be hired, at a living
wage, to keep the building in conformity with the highest level of health
and safety standards.

Others expressed fear that success in employment could disqualify them from
housing eligibility, yet still leave them with no where else to go. They
said that they did not want to be "victims of their own success."

Larger Advocacy Agenda
Community members also identified crucial issues that would not be addressed
directly by new housing, but would fit in a larger advocacy agenda. Advocacy
agenda items were selected on the basis of helpfulness in establishing new
low-income housing.

As part of a broader advocacy agenda, a Housing Trust Fund could be created
from local general fund money. Use requirements from this money could be
designed to eliminate barriers to permanent housing, rather than creating

A national housing "superfund" should be established outside of HUD and free
of HUD-like restrictions. This money should only be used for folks making
$10,000 or less a year.

 All new housing should be developed, maintained and operated by homeless
people paid a living wage, and be available to all homeless people
regardless of their background.

For those who need it, mental health and substance use services would be

Housing created should have kitchen facilities and adequate bathroom/shower

Low-income housing must make accommodations for people's pets.


Fact: At least 10,000 people are waiting for Section 8 vouchers in SF.
Source SF Housing Authority http://www.ci.sf.ca.us/sfha spirit/factoids.html

Fact: At least 14,000 people are on the waiting list for public housing in
Source: "New Public Housing Policy Could Leave Families Out In Cold." by
Bernadette Tansey SF Chronicle September 21, 1999.

Fact: Many landlords in low-vacancy rate cities refuse to rent to Section 8
Source: "All Vouchered Up and Nowhere To Go" St. Louis Coalition To Save
Public Housing

Fact: Money from Section 8 certificates returned unused goes into the
federal government's general fund. There is no guarantee that this money is
ever returned to housing use and in some cases has been used to pay for wars
in Iraq and Kosovo.
Source: "Housing Program Under Scrutiny" SF Chronicle May 5, 2000.

Fact: Current HUD Policy, the Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act,
requires that 60% of all public housing vacancies be offered to families
earning between 30 and 80 percent of the regions median income. This means
that the SFHA is now forced to give the majority of its' vacancies to
families making between $21,000 and $40,000 a year.
Source: "New Public Housing Policy Could Leave Families Out In Cold." by
Bernadette Tansey SF Chronicle September 21, 1999.

Fact: Undocumented immigrants are now barred from most federally funded
housing programs. Eviction proceedings will be initiated against those who
do not pass citizenship checks.
Source: "New Public Housing Policy Could Leave Families Out In Cold." by
Bernadette Tansey SF Chronicle September 21, 1999.

Fact: Time on waiting lists for public housing is growing. Nationally, the
average wait is 22 to 33 months. Locally, families report wait times of four
to ten years. 
Sources: Waiting In Vain: America's Affordable Housing Crisis.U.S.Department
Of Housing and Urban Development., SFHA Homepage

Fact: Time on waiting list for Section 8 is growing. Nationally the average
wait to 26 to 28 months. In San Francisco, the wait ranges from two to eight
Sources: Waiting In Vain: America's Affordable Housing Crisis.U.S.Department
Of Housing and Urban Development., SFHA Homepage.

Fact: The HOPE VI demolition/reconstruction program has resulted in a loss
of 230 low-income public housing units.
 Hayes Valley lost 99 units.
 Bernal Dwellings lost 48 units.
 Plaza East, lost 83 units.
The SFHA asserts that some units will be family sized, therefore making up
for the loss of units. No statistics are available for the amount of people
who will be housed because Bernal Dwellings and Plaza East have been
demolished for about four years now ! Re-occupancy starts in 2002 in the
earliest scenario. 
Source: SFHA statistics April 1999 and SFHA webpage op cit.

Fact: The number of families on waiting lists is growing.  Over 1 million
families are on list nationwide.
Sources: Waiting In Vain: America's Affordable Housing Crisis.U.S.Department
Of Housing and Urban Development., SFHA Homepage

Fact: The current proposed HUD budget is $30 billion; $4 billion above last
years budget. Republicans are attempting to cut $2.5 billion out of specific
 120,000 rental assistance vouchers will be eliminated.
 $270 million in public housing operating subsidies cut.
 $400 million cut from Community Development Block Grants  (CDBG) which
invest in a variety of community projects.
 $180 million from homeless assistance programs.
 $28 million for AIDS housing.
Source: HUD Press Release, June 7, 2000.

Fact: These cuts translate into a deepening of the low-income housing crisis
in San Francisco.
 $10,951,000 dollars will be cut from the local Housing Authority budget.
 San Francisco will loose 458 housing vouchers.
 The SFHA will lay off 61 people.
 61 households assisted by CDBG will loose funding.
 234 vouchers for homeless people with AIDS will be lost.
 49 family housing units will be cut.
 Reconstruction of some demolished HOPE VI developments may be in jeopardy.
Source: Potential Impacts Of House Mark of HUD's FY2001 Budget Request
supplied by SFHA, Jim Culp Spokesperson.
The Coalition on Homelessness Housing Workgroup:
Jason Albertson, Paul Boden ,Natalie Bonnewit, Anthony Camel, Scott Clark,
Rene Cazenave, Johaanna Keeley Joyce Miller, Anna Morrow, Kaye Griffen,
Dariush Kayhan, Rebecca Vilkomerson, Matt Starr,  Mara Raider,
James Tracy, Arroza Simpson.

Thanks to: Charles Daas, Sonjia Gipson, Lynn Washington, Rebecca
Louve-Bovee, and Jennifer Suskind and all of the community groups who gave
input into this study.
The Coalition on Homelessness, San Francisco (COH) was organized in 1987 to
garner the active participation of poor people on both the design and
critique of public policy and non-profit services that result in permanent
solutions to poverty. It is a unique organization in that the driving force
is low-income and homeless people, working in every aspect of the
organization, from the volunteers to the staff and leadership body.

Coalition on Homelessness, San Francisco
468 Turk Street, San Francisco, CA  94102
415/346.3740-voice  415/7755639-fax