SAN FRANCISCO—David Sandow was homeless for six years before moving into his new apartment. Without Mission Creek Senior Community, the 66- year-old former dialysis nurse said he might still be living in his van.

Sandow had two heart surgeries and couldn’t work, he lost money in the stock market, and family members died during the past several years, so “every attachment with the past was gone, and there were few prospects and little sense of hope,” he said.

Since moving into his apartment in 2006, he said he feels like a new man. His physical condition has improved, and his mobility is better than it was during the days spent in his cramped van. “The change in the physical situation allowed my mental state to improve,” he said.

Sandow is among the vulnerable seniors, including those transitioning out of homelessness and long-term care, who call Mission Creek Senior Community home.

This mixed-use development is an integral part of its urban neighborhood. In an inspired move, the project combines 140 apartments with San Francisco’s first new branch library in 40 years.

Developed by Mercy Housing California, the $43.7 million project received strong support from the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency (SFRA). The development is in the Mission Bay neighborhood that is rising on a former rail yard. SFRA brought together Mercy Housing California and the library system to create a place for housing, care, and community.

In addition to the 7,500-square-foot branch library and a coffeehouse, a thirdfloor community room is part of the mix.

An important component of Mission Creek is the Adult Day Health Center (ADHC), which provides key health and social services to seniors. Operated by North & South of Market Adult Day Health, Inc., ADHC’s services include medical care and occupational and physical therapy.

The building features several energyefficient elements, including solar panels, which will provide about 25 percent of the power needs of the common areas.

The development’s biggest achievement is providing housing for very low income seniors with special needs. Fifty-one apartments are designated for formerly homeless and frail or disabled seniors. The rents for the units are subsidized by the city Department of Public Health.

“We found that the challenges of the development process turned to opportunities and the ultimate result was very much worth the challenge since the development does provide such a dramatic benefit to the residents and the community,” said Sharon Christen, housing developer at Mercy.

Eighty-eight units are for residents earning no more than 50 percent of the area median income (AMI), and 51 units are for those earning no more than 20 percent of the AMI. All are one-bedroom units. The average income of the seniors at Mission Creek is below 20 percent of the AMI. One unit is a manager’s apartment.

The 51 units serving frail seniors have monthly rents of $356 each. Mission Creek also has 88 Sec. 8 units. Ten units are designated for elders living with HIV or AIDS.

The $43.7 million price tag does not include the library, which was also developed by Mercy Housing California. SFRA provided approximately $18 million in loans and grants. The state Department of Housing and Community Development contributed $7.5 million through its Multifamily Housing Program. The California Tax Credit Allocation Committee provided low-income housing tax credits that generated $13.8 million in equity. National Equity Fund was the investor. Citibank provided an $8 million permanent mortgage. The Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco provided $625,000 from its Affordable Housing Program through member Bank of America.

Mission Creek Senior Community

Developers: Mercy Housing California

Architect: Hardison Komatsu Ivelich & Tucker

Major Funders:

San Francisco Redevelopment Agency

California Department of Housing and Community Development

California Tax Credit Allocation Committee

National Equity Fund


Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco

Bank of America

San Francisco Department of Public Health