SAN FRANCISCO—Ian Campbell has a place to call his own at Railton Place, a big deal for a man who lived in Golden Gate Park for 17 years. “I'm flabbergasted,” he says. “This place is gorgeous.”
Campbell had 16 years of active service when he hung up his Army boots years ago. “After I was discharged, I lost track of myself,” says the former tank commander. “I lost my uniform; I lost my identity.”
The sprawling urban park became his long-time home. At one point, he dug a bunker in which to live.
Prior to moving into Railton Place in September, Campbell, 65, was staying at a local shelter. His counselors at Swords to Plowshares, a San Francisco nonprofit that serves low-income and homeless veterans, and the Haight Ashbury Free Clinics, a local health care provider, helped him apply for one of the apartments.
As a result, Campbell is one of the first residents of the 113-unit project developed by The Salvation Army for some of the city's neediest residents, including young adults aging out of foster care and chronically homeless adults and veterans. Clean and sober for two-and-a-half years, Campbell hopes Railton Place will help further stabilize his life.
Located in the hard-scrabble Tenderloin neighborhood, the project provides both permanent and transitional housing. The Salvation Army has developed the adjacent Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center, featuring a gym with a basketball court, a pool, a dance studio, a computer room, and the group's traditional worship center. Supportive services are available for residents as well.
The center, which will serve Railton residents and the larger community, is the first of approximately 30 such facilities to open nationwide since 2004, when the estate of Joan Kroc, widow of McDonald's founder Ray Kroc, donated $1.5 billion to The Salvation Army for the centers. Local chapters competed for a share of those funds and also had to raise their own money. The $30 million Kroc Center and the separately funded $26.7 million Railton Place make up The Salvation Army's largest redevelopment project in San Francisco.
The 27 studio apartments for the youths are on separate floors from the 83 studios for the other residents. There are three staff units that are also affordable. The project targets residents earning no more than 35 percent of the area median income (AMI), with 30 units reaching lower to serve those at 25 percent of the AMI.
Financing for the housing included approximately $13 million in tax-exempt bonds and low-income housing tax credits. Hill, Devine & Gong was the financial and development consultant.
Campbell says he is looking forward to participating in the many activities offered at Railton, including computer classes. He hopes the new skills will allow him to “communicate with the rest of the world.”