New Affordable Housing For San Francisco’s Chinatown

Virtually all of us have had Chinatown of San Francisco on our must see list for tourist destinations.

It draws more tourists annually than even the Golden Gate Bridge.

The reasons why are myriad.

When you are walking down the streets, it’s like being in a foreign country. Not only the buildings but the sounds and the crowds but the smells that emanate from the fresh fish and produce establishments that line the streets. writer, Kkmd at the English language Wikipedia photo

And then there are the restaurants.

You do have to do a little homework but when you find a great eatery with authentic Chinese cuisine, it is out of this world delicious.

Centered on Grant Avenue and Stockton Street in San Francisco, Chinatown is the oldest Chinatown in North America and the largest Chinese enclave outside Asia.

It is the oldest of the four notable Chinatowns in the city. Since its establishment in 1848, it has been highly important and influential in the history and culture of ethnic Chinese immigrants in North America.

Chinatown is an enclave that continues to retain its own customs, languages, places of worship, social clubs, and identity. There are two hospitals, numerous parks and squares, a post office, and other infrastructure.

Since most of the employees of the many family owned restaurants seem to live in the area, many of whom are food servers and cooks, we have wondered something though?

How in the world can they afford to live in extremely expensive San Francisco?

For example in Washington, D.C. the average commute time is 34.3 minutes and it is known as a commuter city. But even if San Francisco is a major commute hub, Chinatown is not.

According to, “When the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development released its 2018 thresholds for affordable and subsidized housing last month, San Francisco had the highest in the nation — $117,400 for a family of four is now considered “low income.”

San Francisco’s housing crisis has reached such heights that a fair-market two-bedroom apartment now rents for more than $3,000 a month, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, an affordable housing advocacy group.”

This dilemma is on the minds of many. The media site adds, “San Francisco’s housing crisis is “hitting home” in the historic Chinatown neighborhood… and threatening a century-old way of life. writer, By HaeB – Own work

KTVU found elderly people and immigrant families living in single room residential hotels. The space is cramped.  Even though it isn’t much, they call it home. But now, like the rest of the city, there’s pressure to raise rents.”

As you might imagine, to be employed in the restaurant industry would place you far below the low income criteria. Finding housing can be a challenge.

Mayor London Breed is trying to do something about that. You can read about that here.

Friday, September 07, 2018


San Francisco, CA—Mayor London N. Breed today unveiled the rehabilitation of 92 apartments for seniors and persons with disabilities at 990 Pacific Avenue. The project is the first in Chinatown to be renovated under the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program, which is integral to San Francisco’s commitment to preserving and revitalizing existing affordable housing across the City.

The rehabilitation of 990 Pacific Avenue included seismic retrofit measures, numerous upgrades to the interior of each individual unit, an improved community room, and enhanced common spaces.

“This is the first public housing in Chinatown to be renovated under the RAD program,” said Mayor Breed. “As someone who grew up in public housing, I can remember the mold, the leaky pipes, and the frequent times when the hot water was out. I am committed to continuing Mayor Lee’s legacy of preserving and renovating our public housing to make those conditions a thing of the past.”

Under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s RAD program, the ownership and management of 990 Pacific Avenue was transferred from the San Francisco Housing Authority to the nonprofit Chinatown Community Development Corporation (Chinatown CDC). This change allowed it to leverage local funds, tax credit financing, and private mortgages to upgrade the building.

“District 3 has the highest number of low-income seniors in the entire city,” said Supervisor Aaron Peskin. “Chinatown CDC has long recognized the link between stable housing and healthy communities where seniors can age in place with dignity. I have spent a lot of time with the tenants at 990 Pacific Avenue, and it’s a testament to the community’s trust in Chinatown CDC and the quality of coordination on behalf of the City that we have been able to successfully pull off this rehabilitation, including temporarily relocating seniors for the duration of the construction. I know they are very happy to be home.”

The Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development oversaw $9.54 million in City funds for pre-development and construction funding. San Francisco is providing over $100 million in total funding to RAD programs and 1,620 units have been renovated to date.

“It’s exciting to see the beautiful results of this joint effort with Chinatown CDC, HUD, San Francisco Housing Authority and Bank of America to provide more than 100 seniors and people with disabilities with safe, high-quality, affordable apartments and essential on-site services,” said Kate Hartley, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development.

The funding for the project was made possible in part due to a $9.2 million tax-exempt construction loan provided by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, which has invested $2.1 billion in total financing for RAD projects in San Francisco.

“This community at 990 Pacific was an integral part of Mayor Lee’s SF RAD vision, and Bank of America Merrill Lynch proudly invested $2.1 billion in financing into SF RAD, representing the nation’s and the bank’s largest affordable housing deal ever,” said Gioia McCarthy, San Francisco–East Bay Market President for Bank of America. “This financing directly helped with the relocation and support of the senior residents’ temporary living arrangements, and it’s notable that every single one of the residents returned – a testament to the Mayor’s vision, the resolve of the city to not displace our vulnerable populations, and the bank’s commitment to create vibrant communities.”

San Francisco’s RAD program provides for rigorous tenant protections. Rents continue to be calculated at 30% of income, there is no re-screening for current residents, and there is a right to return for residents who may need to relocate temporarily while their units are renovated. For this project, residents were placed in other buildings throughout San Francisco during the construction process and continued to receive services in these temporary locations.

“By transforming 990 Pacific Ave, we are ensuring that the elderly and people with disabilities can stay in their homes and have access to health and social community resources, maintain their network of friends, and eat and shop right in their neighborhood. As part of the rehab, we even created an exercise room for the residents so they don’t have to travel far to stay fit,” said Norman Fong, Executive Director of Chinatown CDC.

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OPENING PHOTO VIA  Cyn Eats,_San_Francisco

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