City announces groundbreaking of 18-story affordable housing development in SOMA

Once complete, 921 Howard Street will provide 100% affordable housing to 201 San Francisco families
August 26, 2021

Mayor London N. Breed today celebrated the groundbreaking of a new 18-story 100% affordable housing complex in the South of Market (SOMA) neighborhood. The development at 921 Howard Street will be one of the largest affordable housing projects seen in San Francisco in the last decade, with 40% of the units set aside for current SOMA residents or residents who reside within a half-mile of the project per the City’s Neighborhood Resident Housing Preference.

The development advances the City’s strategy for economic recovery, which is centered around new job creation and investing in infrastructure that ensures San Francisco’s post-COVID-19 economy emerges more equitable and resilient than before. The construction of the project is expected to create 1,000 union jobs, building on the City’s economic recovery plan.

“As we recover from this pandemic, we must continue building affordable housing projects like this one to keep San Franciscans in the city they call home,” said Mayor Breed. “This project will not only provide 18 stories of much-needed housing for our city’s families, but it will create 1,000 new union jobs at a time when putting people to work is crucial. We know we need more housing across our entire City, and I’m thankful for everyone who persevered to move this project forward.”  

The project at 921 Howard dates back to December 2007, which at the time, was a joint venture between Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation (TNDC) and Citizens Housing Corporation (“Citizens”). The joint venture responded to and was selected by the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development (MOHCD) through a Family Housing Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) during which they proposed a 9-story family development with 134 units.

The proposed project involved assembling ten parcels totaling 32,000 square feet. In 2009, Citizens wound down its operations and TNDC acquired Citizens’ portfolio, including the site, which they then took the lead in developing. 921 Howard entails the development of approximately 63% of the original 32,000 square foot site. Construction of the project faced delays due to the 2008 financial crisis as well as a number of proposed building designs and concepts that did not come to fruition. New funding sources from the State, combined with 2019 Affordable Housing Bond funds approved by the voters, are now allowing the project to move forward.

“We’re thrilled to see 921 Howard break ground,” said Katie Lamont, Senior Director of Housing Development at TNDC, co-developer of 921 Howard. “The need for housing in San Francisco is a pressing issue, especially in light of the pandemic, and this development is key to helping more and families find stability.”

Curtis Development, a local developer with decades of experience, entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with TNDC in February 2021 to serve as co-developer for the project.

“It’s so gratifying to bring this project to fruition after a challenging long haul,” said Charmaine Curtis, Principal at Curtis Development and co-developer with TNDC on 921 Howard. “It will be even more gratifying to see families moving in a couple of years from now.”

Built with families and children in mind, amenities at 921 Howard will include a community garden, a number of shared common spaces, bicycle parking, and after-school programming for students. The development will seek a GreenPoint Rated certification, and contractors involved in construction will partner with local, BIPOC-owned, or women-owned businesses. 

The apartments at 921 Howard will be affordable to households with a range of incomes between 75-120% Area Median Income (AMI). Once complete, the building will consist of 201 affordable studios, 1-bedroom, 2-bedroom, and 3-bedroom homes, as well as two additional on-site units for building managers. 

"Affordable housing is our best tool to end homelessness and keep families in San Francisco. This is even more important as we recover from the pandemic,” said District 6 Supervisor Matt Haney. “This important project is an example of what we can get done when residents, housing providers, and our city work together. I’m thrilled to celebrate the groundbreaking of another affordable development in District 6.”

The 18-story building is designed by Perry Architects, and Swinerton Builders is the lead general contractor. Construction started in June 2021, and residents are anticipated to begin moving in Spring 2023, once the building is complete.

“We have a company culture of being invested in the communities we serve,” said Lori Dunn, Division Manager and Vice President at Swinerton. “We are thrilled to help bring these affordable units to San Francisco with our local workforce and small business partners.”

Major financing for 921 Howard was provided by an $18.2 million investment for building construction from MOHCD, enabling the $148.5 million project to move forward. In addition to the City’s investment, the development was made possible by financing from Bank of America Merrill Lynch, the California Housing Finance Agency Middle Income Program, California Tax Credit Allocation Committee, California Debt Limit Allocation Committee.