Preserving Affordable Housing and Maintaining Our Communities

227 Bay St affordable housing apartments — before and after RAD rehabilitation.

This month, residents living in the oldest public housing project west of the Mississippi will finally understand what it feels like to live in a new home.

Holly Courts, an affordable housing complex in Bernal Heights that was built in 1943, is in the midst of being upgraded as part of the City’s Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program, a transformative effort to improve distressed and neglected homes for our seniors, residents with disabilities and families in need.

Rehabilitated Holly Courts apartments. Image courtesy of Bride Housing.

The Holly Courts complex is one of 28 different RAD projects underway in our city. The first phase of those undertakings — a total of 14 projects — is scheduled to be finished by the end of this year. At a time when federal funding cutbacks are depriving many communities of housing options, San Francisco is building and maintaining our affordable housing stock.

Along with Holly Courts, the Robert B. Pitts apartment — a family housing complex with 201 units — and 462 Duboce Avenue — which is the homes to 42 senior and disabled residents — will be completed this month. Nearly 3,500 units will be rehabilitated through RAD at a total cost of $2 billion, making our investment one of the largest public housing improvement projects in the country.

When the construction project at Holly Courts is completed on August 31, the 118 residents will also have access to a new services, including a community room with a kitchen, centralized laundry and an on-site management team that will tend to their concerns. It will be a far cry from the development that was using the same plumbing system for the past 70 years.

While their units are being refurbished, residents of RAD properties have been temporarily relocated offsite or within their buildings. A key part of RAD is ensuring that the existing residents are not displaced to distant communities while their home are being rebuilt.

345 Arguello St

When the residents return to their original units, they will notice improvements to address seismic deficiencies, mold and mildew growth and non-functioning elevators. Their apartments will be outfitted with new appliances, and revamped interiors, making them more comfortable and accommodating for families.

These housing facilities are homes to seniors, disabled residents and low-income families, and they are spread across San Francisco, from Midtown Terrace to Lower Pacific Heights, and from the Tenderloin to Bernal Heights.

While RAD is a federal housing program, San Francisco has entered into a unique agreement with the Housing and Urban Development that allows the City to leverage private financing for the apartment rehabilitation projects. Partnering with nonprofit housing developers such as the Chinatown Community Development Center (CCDC) and the Mission Economic Development Association (MEDA), which own and manage the developments, we have generated $700 million in private funding for renovations and repairs to the RAD projects.

We are taking an innovative approach to breathe new life into our public housing facilities. During the past several years, San Francisco has enjoyed unparalleled economic growth, and RAD is one of the ways that we maintain affordable housing stock for our families.

The residents of Holly Courts and other beneficiaries of the RAD program are enjoying more than just working sprinklers and better laundry facilities. They are receiving assurances that the City cares about them, and wants them to succeed and flourish in San Francisco. By building stronger homes, we are building stronger communities.