API leaders urge city to approve affordable housing project in SF Sunset District

Leaders with San Francisco's Asian and Pacific Islander communities on Wednesday voiced support for a proposed 100 percent affordable housing development in the Sunset District, which would be the first of its kind in the neighborhood.

The proposal at 2550 Irving St. would be seven stories with up to 100 units, consisting of studios, one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom apartments.

At least 40 percent of the units would be set aside for Sunset residents.

The support comes as the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee on Wednesday is set to approve a $14 million loan agreement with the Mayor's Office of Housing and Community Development and the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation to acquire the property and fund pre-development. The funding would come from November 2019's Proposition A, a voter-approved housing bond.

Anni Chung, president and CEO of the group Self-Help for the Elderly, said affordable housing is desperately needed on the city's west side, which is home to a large portion of the city's Chinese community.

"There's just not enough affordable housing units for everyone who needs them in the city, especially in the western parts of the city in the Richmond and Sunset Districts," she said. "I think it's a matter of fairness and equity for those long-term residents who live in Sunset but never really get to live in affordable units."

She added, "We hope those who need subsidized housing and senior housing in the Sunset really will be able to live in a beautiful, modern, well-managed and safe building soon."

Former San Francisco Supervisor Katy Tang, a Sunset District native, also called on city leaders to support the project's approval, calling the proposed site "prime location."

"When I was serving as a supervisor in the Sunset, we heard from a lot of community members that, 'yes we would like more housing and we want affordable housing on the west side of town.' Now we have an opportunity where we have an underutilized lot in the Sunset District. So, we are not going to be destroying any particular blocks of existing housing," she said.

"The westside in San Francisco has the largest concentration of low-income and working API families more than anywhere in San Francisco," said Malcolm Yeung, executive director of the Chinatown Community Development Center.

"We just know from an equity standpoint that the west side needs affordable housing investment to make sure that all of the working families out here have a place where they can stay, live, and frankly build their families and communities," Yeung said.