Affordable Housing Wins Big in Off-Year Election

Voters overwhelmingly approved the city's largest housing bond and the re-zoning needed to build for affordable housing.

Barring a truly shocking turn of events, San Francisco has passed its biggest housing bond to date.

Proposition A, a $600 million affordable housing bond raked in 71 percent votes as of Sunday. The housing measure needed a two-thirds majority to clear approval.

Mayor London Breed and Supervisor Norman Yee took the lead with stakeholders to craft the bond, which was introduced at $300 million. In its final form, it doles out $150 million for public housing, $220 million for low-income housing, $60 million for middle-income housing and preservation, $150 million for senior housing, and $20 million for educator housing.

Even before the Department of Elections said ballot processing is mostly complete on Sunday, supporters cheered its passage. Proposition E, which allowed affordable housing to be built on public land, also passed with 76 percent approval.

“We know that the two main barriers to meeting our affordable housing needs are limited land and available funding, and I’m elated that San Francisco voters overwhelmingly approved Propositions A and E to tackle these issues,” said Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer, one of Prop. E’s authors, in a statement. “This election showed that San Franciscans overwhelmingly support prioritizing more affordable housing for our seniors, educators, and working families in every neighborhood across San Francisco.”

All-but-official-passage of the two measures follows a Budget and Legislative Analyst report released in October that found high-income housing production exceeding needs for future planning. San Francisco must build 15,629 units for low-income earners through 2026 but only has 1,626 in the pipeline.

Educators are included in this need, which is where Prop. E comes into play. It allows 100 percent affordable housing to be built on public land. The San Francisco Unified School District is in the process of building 130 units for educators at the Francis Scott Key Annex in the Outer Sunset, a first for the city.

The Board of Supervisors and Breed are also united in supporting Prop. E, but only after a wacky back-and-forth of competing measures that were eventually consolidated into one. A similar tussle is underway for the competing mental health reform measures slated for the March 2020 ballot.

“Prop E’s overwhelming victory proves the readiness of San Francisco voters to open up zoning in the outer neighborhoods that have not seen affordable housing in decades,” said Fernando Marti, co-director of the Council of Community Housing Organizations, in a statement.  “People across the city do want housing in their neighborhoods, affordable to their neighbors, their seniors, their children, and their teachers.”

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