The word “miracle” echoed around a city block as officials broke ground on a building that will house St. Anthony’s venerable dining room and nine stories of affordable housing above.
Located in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood, the new building will replace the old hall that has long provided free meals to the city’s neediest residents. The new dining room will provide 43 percent more space for St. Anthony’s to continue its mission while Mercy Housing California will develop 90 new apartments.
St. Anthony’s opened on the site Oct. 4, 1950, with expectations of serving 150 meals that day. However, volunteers had to scramble to feed 400 people. The corner has been dubbed the “Miracle on Jones Street” for the dining room’s ability to serve everyone no matter how many people show up.
Few know it as well as Tyrone Hopper, who was assisted by the St. Anthony Foundation.
“Just four years, nine months, six days ago, I was smoking crack,” said Hopper. “I was a drug addict. Almost five years later, here I am. Miracles do happen.”
Hopper works in the dietary department of San Francisco General Hospital and is about to earn a degree in criminal justice.
He was among the dignitaries celebrating the start of construction. The city shut down the busy street to make way for all the people attending.
“It’s Mercy Housing because it is the Sisters of Mercy, but it’s mercy housing because that is what it is,” said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.
She cited the importance of the federal programs that are helping to finance the project, including New Markets Tax Credits (NMTCs) and low-income housing tax credits (LIHTCs).
“It has to be protected,” Pelosi told Affordable Housing Finance when asked about the LIHTC’s future as tax reform efforts heat up. “It makes such a difference.”
Residents of the new development will include 18 people who will come off the streets, according to Doug Shoemaker, president of Mercy Housing California.
It will be a valuable home to many seniors, but “it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the need,” he said.
Mercy Housing has assembled multiple sources of financing to fund the seniors apartments, including about $12 million from the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Sec. 202 program and about $16 million in LIHTC equity from the National Equity Fund, Inc.
Bay Area Local Initiatives Support Corp., Citi Community Capital, Silicon Valley Bank, Federal Home Loan Bank, and the city of San Francisco are also partners.
The mixed-use development is also being supported by Bank of America, the Koret Foundation, and the Low Income Investment Fund, which is providing $10 million through the NMTC program. St. Anthony’s is working on raising the final $2.5 million.