Learn about the Certificate of Preference (COP)

The Certificate of Preference (COP) offers households that were displaced due to former San Francisco Redevelopment Agency action, priority in City sponsored affordable housing lotteries.

What to do

The certificate gives the highest priority to COP applicants in City-sponsored affordable housing lotteries and waitlist opportunities in San Francisco.

Eligibility for the Certificate of Preference

You are eligible for a certificate if:

  • Your household was displaced by the former SF Redevelopment Agency in the 1960s and 1970s; or
  • You are a direct descendant of someone who was displaced by the former SF Redevelopment Agency in the 1960s and 1970s.

1. Check affected addresses for Certificate of Preference eligibility

Download a list of affected addresses and view affected address maps:

No names are listed, for privacy reasons.

2. Submit an application to check your eligibility

Fill out and submit the online Certificate of Preference application.

Due to the high volume of interest, we are currently experiencing a delay in processing applications. Within 60 days, we will contact you to confirm we are in receipt of your application and will provide a status update. Thank you for your patience.

If you need a paper application, you may contact the MOHCD front desk at 415-701-5500 or pick one up in person.

Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development
1 South Van Ness Avenue, 5th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103

3. Provide documentation to confirm your eligibility

MOHCD will verify your eligibility and will ask for documentation.

To claim a COP as a displaced person, you must prove that:

  • You lived as a household member at an affected address at the time of displacement; and
  • You are the displaced person by providing a valid state-issued ID or passport

If there is no existing record of you living in an affected address, you must provide an official document that verifies you lived at an affected address at the time of displacement. It must include your name, the Head of Household’s name, the date, and the affected address.

You may use official documents such as:

To claim a COP as a direct descendant of a displaced person, you must provide:

  • An official government issued birth and/or adoption records to link you to a displaced household member that lived at an affected address at the time of displacement.

4. Look for waitlist housing opportunities

MOHCD has created a directory and an interactive Dashboard listing former San Francisco Redevelopment Agency (SFRA) and Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure (OCII) developments with waitlist opportunities for COP holders. 

Search the dashboard of COP eligible waitlist opportunities

Search the directory of COP eligible waitlist opportunities (PDF)

More about the Certificate of Preference Program

  • Read our Certificate of Preference Program Frequently Asked Questions document
  • The Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development has managed the COP program since 2012.
  • Once you have a COP, you still need to qualify for housing by meeting the property eligibility requirements for each affordable housing opportunity. All opportunities are listed on the DAHLIA San Francisco Housing Portal.
  • If you are a person that lived in a household at the time of displacement or are a descendant of people displaced, you can exercise your Certificate of Preference twice – once to rent a City sponsored apartment and once to buy, with the exception of senior Certificate holders who can use their Certificate a second time for affordable senior housing.
  • You do not need the original physical certificate to apply for affordable housing. MOHCD will confirm that you are eligible for the lottery.
  • The Certificate of Preference is not transferable between family members. Family members need to use their own issued COP to receive a preference.
  • The Certificate of Preference does not come with a rental subsidy or housing voucher.
  • Being displaced by the SF Housing Authority does not make you eligible for COP.
  • For additional information, the call the Certificate hotline at 628-652-5801.
  •  Certificate of Preference Program Rules 2008 by the former SF Redevelopment Agency Commission

Last updated March 7, 2024