City celebrates grand opening of new affordable housing in the heart of the Mission District

Site that once served as the City’s inaugural navigation center opens its doors to 155 families and provides 100% affordable housing for San Franciscans
April 15, 2021

Mayor London N. Breed today celebrated the grand opening of a 100% affordable housing project in the Mission at La Fénix at 1950 Mission Street. Located between 15th and 16th Streets, near the 16th Street BART station, the building consists of 155 permanently affordable apartments for low-income households and will include 40 units for formerly homeless families; there are two additional units for on-site property management. It is the second of seven new 100% affordable housing developments in the Mission that are either already open, under construction, or will open in the next 18 months, following over a decade in which no new affordable housing was built in the neighborhood.

“I am excited to join community and project partners in the Mission today to celebrate the opening of 155 new homes for San Francisco families,” said Mayor Breed. “Projects like this one and the others that will break ground over the coming years are critical to addressing so many of the challenges we face as a city. Creating new, affordable places for our residents to live will help us recover from this pandemic and ensure our residents can continue to live and thrive in the neighborhood they call home.”

Built with families in mind, amenities at La Fénix include a rooftop playground, landscaped courtyards, a spacious community room with a kitchen, and a communal laundry room. Located near BART and several Muni lines, this transit-oriented housing development will help advance the City’s climate goals by promoting the use of public transportation. Residents of La Fenix receive transit passes, and project funding has been directed for pedestrian and bike improvements.

The ground floor features community-serving uses that include a childcare center operated by Mission Neighborhood Centers (MNC), art studios and a gallery operated by Acción Latina, as well as a bicycle repair shop operated by PODER. These community-serving programs are open to residents and the surrounding neighbors. A quarter of the homes at 1950 Mission are for residents of the surrounding the neighborhood.

The housing development at 1950 Mission Street is an excellent example of creative interim and future uses of City-owned property to help address homelessness and affordable housing in San Francisco. 1950 Mission was once a San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) facility with temporary, movable classroom buildings and surface parking. In June 2007, the SFUSD Board of Education approved a resolution designating 1950 Mission as surplus property. Shortly thereafter, pursuant to the California Education Code, SFUSD put the site up for sale, which the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development (MOHCD) identified and purchased in September 2014 to develop affordable housing.

Following MOHCD’s purchase of 1950 Mission, and in an effort to meet the growing need for safe and secure transitional services for the city’s unhoused population, the site was transformed into the City’s first interim-use navigation center, operated by the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing (HSH). The navigation center served people experiencing homelessness in close proximity to the site with the goal of placing clients into permanent housing.

“What a win for the community when we can take an underused public lot and create more than 150 new deeply affordable homes!” said Supervisor Hillary Ronen. “Congratulations to Mission Housing and Bridge on this spectacular partnership. And to the families moving in, welcome home to La Fenix!”

In July 2015, MOHCD selected Mission Housing Development Corporation (MHDC) and BRIDGE Housing to develop, own, and operate the affordable housing development proposed for the site.

“Mission Housing is proud and honored, along with BRIDGE Housing, to bring 157 units of new, 100 percent affordable family housing to the Mission,” said Sam Moss, Executive Director of Mission Housing Development Corporation. “We hope La Fénix will be a beacon of hope and support for the Mission District and all of San Francisco’s low-income community.”

“We’re thrilled to bring 100% affordable family homes and new spaces for community services to the neighborhood,” said Smitha Seshadri, Executive Vice President of BRIDGE Housing. “Collaborative developments like La Fénix will help the Mission maintain its rich history of vibrancy and diversity.”

Major financing for 1950 Mission was provided by a $45 million investment from MOHCD that enabled the $113 million project to move forward. In addition to the City’s investment, the development was made possible by financing from the State of California Housing and Community Development Affordable Housing and Sustainable Community Program. Other financial partners include the California Community Reinvestment Corporation; California Debt Limit Allocation Committee; California Tax Credit Allocation Committee, Wells Fargo Bank, and the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco.

“Projects like La Fenix showcase the shared commitment by community leaders, Mayor Breed and the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development to develop well designed affordable housing that meets the needs of residents, while also enhancing the character of the neighborhood,” said MOHCD Director, Eric Shaw. “Our longstanding partnership with the state allowed us to leverage city affordable housing funds with state affordable housing programs to ensure the 1950 Mission had the financing to be constructed and be permanently affordable for low income residents.”

“As the site of the first navigation center, 1950 Mission has been at the heart of new ways to care for and solve homelessness in San Francisco,” said Sam Dodge, Interim Director, Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing. “This former school site allowed us to temporarily shelter hundreds of people while it was in the predevelopment phase and it will now become home 40 formerly homeless families in large apartments steps away from BART in the middle of the Mission. Thank you to the Mission community for years of support in making this happen.”

The nine-story building, designed by local architects, David Baker Architects and Cervantes Design Associated, includes studios, one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom apartments. Construction started in January 2019 and was completed in January 2021.