Our Solutions

We design new strategies for investing in the preservation and production of affordable homes. These are our solutions in action today.

Anti-Displacement Acquisition & Rehab: Small Sites

Anti-Displacement Acquisition & Rehab: Small Sites

The featured image depicts Mission resident Elizabeth Bell, whose building was acquired by MEDA with financing by the Housing Accelerator Fund. (The featured image is courtesy of Christie Hemm Klok and originally appeared in High Country News, “The housing policy that’s turning back gentrification.”)

Challenge

San Francisco is losing a key piece of its existing affordable housing stock: rent-stabilized housing. Many apartments with below-market rents are in small, multifamily buildings of 5-25 units, all built before 1979. In the past, as soon as a rent-stabilized building posted for sale, speculative buyers swooped in, snapping it up with the intent of moving out long-term tenants and dramatically increasing rents, a common practice enabled by state “vacancy decontrol” laws. Affordable housers struggled to line up the quick money necessary to compete in the marketplace. Though valiant efforts are underway to replace formerly affordable apartments lost to market-rate conversions with newly constructed affordable homes, it is a slow and costly process. 

Solution

One of the City’s key housing strategies is to support the purchase of small buildings and transition them to permanently affordable housing, an approach known as “preservation.” The key to success for preservation is simple: work fast and create flexible solutions. Nonprofit developers need quick access to capital to beat out speculative buyers. They gain that capital through HAF’s bridge loans, made in partnership with the public sector.  And HAF goes further by providing acquisition and rehabilitation funding in a “one-stop-shop” transaction that allows people to stay in their homes. HAF’s public-private partnership also creates a multiplier effect: as our public partner repays our loans, we revolve our funds to support as many acquisitions as possible. 

Impact

Through preservation, vulnerable residents are not only permanently protected from economic eviction, but their homes are made better and safer. We have protected over 150 homes through this type of financing, serving over 380 residents. Learn more here.

Acquisition & Rehab of SROs & Hotels

Acquisition & Rehab of SROs & Hotels

The featured image depicts residents at 937 Clay Street, the first large SRO acquisition financed by the Housing Accelerator Fund. Learn more about how residents worked with Chinatown CDC and HAF to acquire 937 Clay in this blog post (featured image by Ling Woo Liu / San Francisco Foundation).

Challenge

Many of the city’s most vulnerable residents – seniors, immigrants, people with disabilities – are currently living in Single Room Occupancy (SRO) and studio apartments within large buildings and residential hotels. These small, older apartments serve as the last line of defense for extremely low-income San Franciscans facing eviction, displacement, and homelessness. While SROs held no market appeal for decades, San Francisco’s acute housing pressures have now put SROs increasingly at risk of speculative purchases and conversion to market-rate housing. We cannot afford to lose this critical housing stock, since homelessness is a very likely alternative for most SRO residents.

Solution

HAF partners with community-based organizations that have years of experience successfully operating large residential buildings serving low-income residents. Our flexible model allows us to closely collaborate with these CBOs to acquire and rehabilitate large, dense properties, so they can permanently serve their communities as critically needed affordable homes.  While traditionally more complicated to finance, we use a combination of different types of public, private, and philanthropic capital to preserve these projects.

Impact

By providing financing for SROs and apartments in SF’s large buildings, we have helped to keep hundreds of residents in their affordable homes, including seniors, immigrants, and people living with disabilities.

Housing to End Homelessness

Housing to End Homelessness

Challenge

San Francisco has one of the largest populations of unsheltered residents nationwide. High costs, complicated entitlement processes, and financing constraints result in an insufficient and too-slow delivery of new housing for individuals exiting homelessness.  It’s not unusual for a homeless housing development to take ten years to complete in San Francisco! 

Solution

HAF has partnered with Tipping Point Community to tackle the problems of time and cost and implement scalable solutions.  By using philanthropic capital up front, linking to public sector financing at construction completion, and pursuing factory-built housing’s promise of faster and less expensive housing production, we’re under construction with our partner Mercy Housing California on a homeless housing building that is on track to achieve significant cost and time savings. Cities and counties around the state can replicate these financing and construction innovations to deliver more housing faster. 

Impact

Our prototype project, Tahanan Supportive Housing at 833 Bryant Street, is scheduled to open in fall 2021, creating 145 units of Permanent Supportive Housing faster and for less than traditional projects. 

We also partnered on the City of San Francisco’s purchase of two hotels to rapidly convert to supportive housing, leveraging awards of grant funds from the State of California’s Homekey program.

Permanent supportive housing is a proven intervention to ending chronic homelessness, and we are committed to creating more of the homes our unsheltered neighbors need to stay safe. In total, the Housing Accelerator Fund has financed the acquisition and development of over 550 units of permanent supportive housing.

Underutilized Land Acquisitions

Underutilized Land Acquisitions

Challenge

In a dense city like San Francisco, there are still many underutilized and vacant properties. Empty warehouses, dilapidated one-story commercial buildings, and parking lots, for example, can be transformed into new affordable housing sites if developers have the money to buy them when opportunities arise.

Solution

HAF provides affordable developers with loans to buy vacant and underutilized sites for new affordable housing construction. The Fund also offers predevelopment financing (e.g., funding for architecture, engineering, and permitting work), which ensures that developers can secure the construction funding they need to develop new homes as quickly as possible.

Impact

HAF’s first loan ever was to BRIDGE Housing for the acquisition of an Excelsior-neighborhood site, which will be developed into more than 130 affordable units for very low-income residents. To date, HAF has provided financing for projects creating more than 430 new, permanently affordable homes on vacant and underutilized sites.

Mixed-Income Housing

Mixed-Income Housing

Challenge

In San Francisco, most residents couldn’t afford to pay market-rate rent if they lost their existing apartment.  This means that the City is at constant risk of losing its essential workers — from grocery store clerks to teachers to first responders — whether to displacement or because they simply move away.  The City’s heart and soul erode every time this happens.  Historically, financing a building meant for occupancy by “middle-income” households has been nearly impossible, since these residents’ incomes are too high to qualify for state and federal subsidies but too low to cover the high costs of construction.  The shortage of affordable housing for our critical workforce continues to grow.   

Solution

HAF provides flexible funding solutions to address the “missing middle” housing that neither the market nor traditional affordable housing resources provide.  And by building flexibility into our acquisition and rehabilitation loan terms, these relatively higher rents can help lower the rents of other apartments in the same development, which enables people in need of greater assistance, like seniors on fixed incomes, to remain affordably housed.    

Impact

We are using capital supplied by philanthropists to address financing gaps for workforce and middle income housing, a market segment that has historically received less financial support from City and State sources. With the power of funds from philanthropists Jeremy Liew and Ranee Lan, HAF made a loan to Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation to move forward a SoMa district project that will create 203 new affordable homes. Over 50% of these homes will be reserved for middle-income and workforce households. 

Together, we can solve the housing affordability crisis.