Green Affordable Housing Project Opens for Former Homeless, Disabled Adults

By Erika Schnitzer, Associate EditorSan Francisco–The Essex, an 84-unit green affordable housing redevelopment project, recently opened in San Francisco. Originally a mixed tourist and residential hotel, the property was rehabilitated for homeless adults with disabilities.Citi Community Capital and Enterprise Community Partners financed the project, located in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood.“It’s a neighborhood with a large number of homeless people, low-income and immigrant families, who, 10 years ago, were on the street and in really terrible SRO (single room occupancy) units,” says Rich Gross, vice president of California initiatives at Enterprise.“Anytime any of the SRO hotels are developed into housing, it’s also a plus for everyone in the neighborhood.”The building includes a 2,300-sq.-ft. street-level commercial space and 3,300-sq.-ft. community center that provide supportive services to residents, including housing retention services, case management and counseling, crisis intervention services, information and referral services, family and senior services, community building and employment and training programs.The development includes a number of green features, including low-flow water fixtures, Energy Star lighting fixtures, green-certified carpets and bathroom surfaces, insulated pipes and a high-efficiency boiler. The location of the development provides easy access to community services, transportation, restaurants and shops.The average monthly rent for a 250-sq.-ft. unit is $216.Construction began in February 2007 and was completed in February 2008. Within 16 days, the development was at 100 percent occupancy, according to the company.Mercy Housing, a Denver-based nonprofit affordable housing developer, and San Francisco-based Community Housing Partnership (CHP) developed the project.Funding for the $23 million redevelopment project came from the Mayor’s Office of Housing, Citi Community Capital and Enterprise Community Investment. The city’s Human Services Agency provided a tenant services grant and the city’s Local Operating Subsidy Program gave funding to ensure that monthly rents remain affordable. The Housing and Emergency Shelter Trust Fund Act of 2002, allocated by the California Department of Housing and Community Development, provided additional support for the project.