A major victory for 100% low-income housing in San Francisco

Low-income tenants and housing advocates claimed a major victory in San Francisco.

Supporters said the years'-old battle for the development of more affordable housing in the Mission District has ended in their favor.

A largely empty building at 1979 Mission Street near 16th Street will be developed into 100% affordable housing.

Advocates say this victory comes after a lot of hard work and never giving up.

On Tuesday afternoon, tenants and affordable housing advocates held a celebratory rally at the 16th Street BART Plaza, by the site to be developed.

"The victory is ours. The victory is in the community.

The victory is with the people," Chirag Bhakta with Mission Community Power Institute and Plaza 16 said as he addressed those attending the rally.

Tenants attending the rally said this project gives them hope.

"My heart is very, very happy for family for people," said Maria Benegas, a single mom raising two children.

She works part-time at a restaurant and said she can only afford to pay $1,000 a month for them to live in a single-room occupancy hotel in the Tenderloin.  

With the help of a translator, she said this affordable housing project gives her hope, "It would be like a dream for my children to have a bigger place to live."

Developer Maximus Real Estate originally proposed to build 331 units of mostly market rate rental housing on the site.

Opponents called it "Monster in the Mission" and formed the Plaza 16 Coalition.

They said their relentless seven year fight, including a large turnout at a planning meeting in 2019, paid off.

"We had a thousand people at a hearing at Mission High School and that has never been done before. And that happened because community members showed up," said Bhakta.  

 Supporters said the new project will be similar to a 156-unit affordable housing just across the street from the site to be developed. 

It will be up to 300-units of one to three-bedroom apartments.

This project was made possible through a land transfer deal with the city.

It was approved by the board of supervisors Tuesday.

"But the victory and celebration is here with the community. We give praise where it's due," said Bhakta.

Advocates said the estimated cost of the project could be close to $100 million.

They estimate the monthly rent could range from $460 to almost $2,000, depending on the tenant's income.

Supporters hope to break ground next year and complete construction in four years.