SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - It's no secret that San Francisco is one of the most expensive cities to live in in the nation. It also has one of the country's biggest homeless populations.
Mayor Ed Lee has been pushing for more affordable housing and today he unveiled 67 brand-new units in the SoMa neighborhood.
KTVU spoke to some of the building's renters about how they are getting a new lease on life.
Erika Mena says she lost her job as a chef recently when the cafe she worked at closed. Then she lost her home.
"My children and I went through a lot of trauma. We ended up being homeless so we ended up being homeless so we ended up couch surfing from my mother's to my sister's," Mena said.
Finding a new home in pricey San Francisco sent her reeling. But thanks to a new affordable housing project spearheaded by Mayor Ed Lee and Mercy Housing Development, Mena calls this nine-story modern building with sweeping views, home.
"I just am so thankful. I can't put it into words," said Mena.
The rents in this apartment building range from $860 a month for a studio to $1,200 a month for a two bedroom and $1,350 a month for a three bedroom. The annual income range for the building's tenants are between $38,000 and $54,000 a year.
"This is 67 units more in my 30,000 unit goal that we're trying to build. We're over halfway there. This accomplishes about 17,000 units that I promised five years ago," said Mayor Lee.
Named after housing-rights advocate Bill Sorro, the building sits on the corner of 6th and Howard and was once the Hugo Hotel. The building was red-tagged in 1989 after the Loma-Prieta earthquake and became well-known when a local artist stuck furniture on the outside.
The city acquired the building four years ago.
Katie O'Bird and her sons just moved in.
"...now starting everything again this is one of the coolest starts I can imagine," said O'Bird.
Health problems set O'Bird back. She was homeless and her two sons, forced to live with their grandparents.
"It was stay up late at nights just thinking about if I did anything wrong. Was it my fault any of this happened?" said Jesse O'Bird, Katie's son.
But now Jesse says the burden has been lifted and he can focus on school and the future.
Mena now works in childcare to pay the bills and is looking for a job as a chef.
"Their faith has grown so much bigger after this because their prayers were answered to finally have a home," a visibly emotional Mena said.
For more information on San Francisco's Housing Portal, click here.