Mercy Housing California and the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center have created the first affordable housing development in San Francisco that combines permanent supportive housing for extremely low-income and formerly homeless young adults with conventional family housing.

San Francisco has one of the highest rates of transition-age youths in the country, with approximately 1,500 homeless young adults on any given night, according to co-developer Mercy Housing California.

After the city put together a task force on transition-age youths about 10 years ago and found that a disproportionate number of this age group was homeless, it made a broader effort to address the issue. Many of these transition-age youths have aged out of foster care system without a support system or have been alienated by their families for being gay.

The 71-unit 1100 Ocean Avenue Apartments, completed in February 2015, features 25 studio and one-bedroom units for the young adults who earn no more than 20% of the area median income (AMI).

The remaining apartments, except for the manager’s unit, are targeted to households who earn at or below 50% of the AMI. More than 5,000 applications poured in for these units.

“It’s in a great neighborhood, adjacent to City College of San Francisco, and a highly desirable place to live,” says Doug Shoemaker, president of Mercy Housing California.

The development site was formerly a bus turnaround owned by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) in the city’s Balboa Park neighborhood. It took collaboration among several city agencies and private institutions to turn this surplus MTA land into affordable housing.

The San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development provided substantial financial support for the nearly $33.5 million development, including a deferred payment ground lease, a loan through its Affordable Housing Fund, redevelopment funds, and operating subsidy for 19 of the transition-age youth units.

In addition, the co-developers received 4% low-income housing tax credit equity from Bank of America Merrill Lynch and funds through the California Department of Housing and Community Development’s Multifamily Housing Program for Supportive Housing and the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco.

The transit-oriented development, which is adjacent to multiple bus lines and the Muni light-rail, features parking for 36 bikes. It only has five parking stalls for cars, one of which is reserved for a car-sharing company.

Green design also was a priority. Sustainable features include solar hot water preheating, a rainwater retention system, low-flow plumbing fixtures, and Energy Star appliances, roofing, and lighting.

Project Details

Developers: Mercy Housing California and Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center
Architect: Herman Coliver Locus Architecture
Major Funders: Bank of America Merrill Lynch; San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development; San Francisco Redevelopment Agency; city of San Francisco; California Department of Housing and Community Development; Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco; California Tax Credit Allocation Committee; California Debt Limit Allocation Committee; California Housing Finance Agency; California Department of Mental Health; County of San Francisco