after a decade in “affordable housing”, i have only made the homelessness problem worse: a confession, and some hope for redemption

with our allies in local, state, and federal government, and our “nonprofit” and banking partners, we did good work. but it was never good enough. we succeeded in doing things right, but failed to do the right things. we were always outmatched by the problem. in fact,

we are the problem

the honest among us call ourselves “crackfare pimps”, because all we do is make the homeless dependent on our “help”.

traditional approaches to ending homelessness will continue to fail, and fail, and fail again. they are too expensive. they take too long. by the time we get to house 50, there will be 500 more. they encourage a culture of dependency. they miss the point.

those of us in the system who continue to perpetrate failed “Home First” approaches, what we fail to see is this: housing is but the lesser part of the solution.

what the homeless need is WORK

work, as everyone from Calvin to Marx understood, will lend us self-respect, self-determination, a chance at redemption.

but forget about trying to hire homeless persons into traditional jobs. that model, too, has failed. because, us homeless? we have trouble showing up for work. so:

our new solution

let the homeless live where they work, and work where they live

farms for homeless veterans in san jose

and let the homeless lead

our “leaders” have failed, and have failed to even acknowledge, much less take responsibility for, those decades of failure.

may we ask you now to just, please, git out da way?

or join us in the streets, in the shelters, in the camps (if you could get there before you order them torn down). be homeless until you solve the homelessness problem, and you will miraculously find solutions by the end of a week.

traditional approaches

i supervised some of the largest, most difficult subsidized housing sites in northern california. we did good, but not nearly good enough.

{ed note: acronyms are not explained, because if you cannot read bureaucratese, you are blessed. may you stay forever blessed.}

  • 125 MASON. Owner’s description: Located in the middle of downtown San Francisco, this family housing building presents an inspiring vision and a new model for high-rise work-force housing. Generous units, comfortable common areas, and pleasant courtyards provide but gracious homes for eighty-one families. Consists of 81 unit one, two, three, and four bedroom apartment homes. 2009 NOMA Design Excellence Citation Award; 2009 Green Building of America Award. Type/Programs: Multifamily, TCAC, City.
  • ACORN. Owner’s description: The Town Center and Courtyards at Acorn is the result of four years of collaboration between HUD, The City of Oakland, BRIDGE, the Acorn Residents Council and the West Oakland community. The revitalized property now includes a high-tech security system and a Town Center, with a recreational center, a community building, tot lots, a pool, and three basketball courts. The Acorn Apartments offer a Computer Learning Center as well as a network connecting individual computers within each home. HUD honored the project with a Best Practices Award. Type/Programs: Multifamily, PBVS8, Market rate, Commercial.
  • THE ARC. Owner’s description: San Francisco’s first affordable housing for people with developmental disabilities, The Arc Apartments is a 9-unit apartment building containing 23 assisted bedrooms, with a Senior Service facility that serves clients of The Arc of San Francisco. Support from The Arc enables many residents to work and lead normal lives. It was developed, and operates with, Federal housing financing. The property utilizes the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Federal housing program to make rent affordable to lower income tenants. The property, at the time of the tax credit allocation, was located in a Difficult Development Area. Type/Programs: TCAC, CalHFA, PHA.
  • BAYWOOD. Owner’s description: Baywood Apartments is an affordable senior community comprising studio and 1-bedroom apartments, a garden, community room, and learning center. The property serves low to very low-income households, and provides senior services. It utilizes two Federal housing programs to make rent affordable to lower income tenants: Low Income Housing Tax Credit and Project Based Section 8. Tax-exempt bond financing was provided by the California Housing Finance Agency. Low Income Housing Tax Credits were acquired by Centerline. All 77 units at the property receive Section 8 assistance. Type/Programs: Senior Housing, TCAC, CalHFA, PBVS8.
  • CECIL WILLIAMS GLIDE HOUSE. Owner’s description: Located next to Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood, the complex offers residents access to extensive social services provided by Glide, and on-site child care. Glide raised substantial donations that were used in conjunction with funding from the City of San Francisco and low-income-housing tax credits to ensure rents are affordable to people with extremely-low incomes. Type/Programs: Supportive housing, S8PBV, City, HOPWA, S+C.
  • CHESTNUT & LINDEN. Owner’s description: Chestnut Linden Court includes 151 affordable rental apartments, 83 of which replaced public housing apartments. The property includes ground-floor retail space, a child-care center, two computer learning centers, two clubrooms, and a range of resident services. Chestnut Linden Court received a Grand Award from Builder magazine and an award for Best Community Impact in Oakland by the San Francisco Business Times. Chestnut Linden also received a Flex Your Power Award for energy-saving building techniques, and a Gold Nugget Award for Best Sustainable Project. Type/Programs: Multi-family, Commercial, HOPE VI, PBVS8, ACC, TCAC.
  • CL DELLUMS. Owner’s description: The Dellums apartments are designed specifically for people with extremely low incomes, people who had been living in shelters or on the streets. With this project we’re breathing life back in to the community, giving people life by giving them a place to live. The property was renovated using the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program. 72 of 73 units at C. L. Dellums Apts are low income. Type/Programs: Special Needs (Homeless Assistance), Single Room Occupancy, City, PHA, TCAC.
  • MANDELA GATEWAY. Owner’s description: Mandela Gateway, a development that spans five acres, provides 168 affordable rental apartments, over 20,000 square feet of retail space, an outdoor play space for children, community space for residents, a landscaped town square, and dedicated spaces for educational classes and after-school programs. Mandela Gateway replaced deteriorated public housing, an auto repair shop and a Caltrans parking lot, helping to reestablish Seventh Street as a retail corridor. The development was awarded Affordable Housing Finance Magazine’s Readers Choice Award for Best Urban Project, National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials Award of Excellence, San Francisco Business Times’ Real Estate Deal of the Year for Affordable Residential Development, and three Pacific Coast Builders Gold Nugget Awards. Type/Programs: Multi-family, Commercial, HOPE VI, ACC, TCAC.
  • NORTH BEACH PLACE. Owner’s description: North Beach Place is one of the largest mixed income, mixed-use complexes in California, comprising a 341-unit development; 20,000 square feet of commercial space – including 3,000 square feet of incubator space for resident entrepreneurs – and a childcare/community center. Located in San Francisco’s popular North Beach area, with proximity to both transportation and employment, this complex is a model for transit-oriented urban infill developments. Type/Programs: Multi-family, Senior Housing, Commercial, HOPE VI, PBVS8, ACC, TCAC, City.
  • VALENCIA GARDENS. Owner’s description: New public streets and private backyards transformed a failed housing project into a vibrant community in San Francisco’s Mission District. The 7-acre complex includes 260 dwelling units, spacious community, day care and learning centers, a play area for children and a plaza with a sculpture garden. Type/Programs: Multi-family, Senior Housing, Commercial, HOPE VI, PBVS8, ACC, HCD, TCAC, City.

and some work that worked and still might work

homies need community too

Community in West Oakland

Community : people loved & admired by The Mila del Sol & Eddie Romero Fund for Community Development

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