San Francisco’s Mid-Market neighborhood is home to tech industry titans such as Twitter, Reddit and Uber as well as foundational government staples like the San Francisco Federal Building, the Old San Francisco Mint and the James R. Browning U.S. Courthouse.
The lattermost of those, which hosts the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, is now neighbor to a $161.2 million, 256-apartment property named 1064 Mission, which was financed in part using the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program.
The six-story, 176,820-square-foot building is the largest supportive housing development the city has done to date. The site was co-developed by longtime partners Mercy Housing California and the site’s owner and manager, Episcopal Community Services of San Francisco (ECS). All of the apartments host those who have previously experienced homelessness; 103 are for people 55 years of age and older.
Complexity was apparent at every turn in bringing 1064 Mission to bear. In addition to the practical, physical challenges of collocating 256 apartments with a slate of ground-floor community services for residents and the neighborhood—including an urgent care clinic, the city’s new Homeless Services Center and a culinary training program facilitated by ECS, Conquering Homelessness Through Employment in Food Services (CHEFS)—developers, lenders and investors worked to navigate a morass of varying jurisdictional demands.
Construction began March 16, 2020, and was completed in October 2022. The resulting property, which includes a pair of courtyards, celebrated its grand opening in February after full lease-up in January.
“It’s a lovely oasis in what’s a pretty intense concrete Mid-Market environment,” said Barbara Gualco, formerly the regional director of real estate development for the Bay Area for Mercy Housing California. Gualco retired in February after 35 years with Mercy Housing.
Much of the complexity owes to the intersection of what is believed to be the first affordable housing property to combine Title V and LIHTCs.
In 2017, the city of San Francisco acquired the land, which sits across a parking lot to the northeast of the 9th Circuit courthouse. The city acquired the site for $1 through the Federal Property Assistance Program, the U.S. General Services Administration and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of Title V of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. The act includes a provision that allows for acquisition of real property owned by the federal government that isn’t being used if the site will house or serve those who have experienced homelessness.
Due to the different programs, buyers and sellers, federal, state and local governments had voices in the production of 1064 Mission Street, which included the uncommon step of working with HHS due to the Title V component.
“The city purchased the land from HHS and leased it to the developers. It’s not too often you have HHS involvement, and it’s rare that there is a reversionary clause recorded against the land,” said James Vossoughi, executive director of Community Development Banking for JPMorgan Chase, construction lender and tax credit investor for the project. “1064 Mission opening its doors this year truly signifies what can be accomplished when public and private organizations come together to address a community’s housing needs.”
To hasten the site’s development, the city sought modular apartments that could be built offsite in tandem with progressing the land. Mercy and ECS enlisted a local fabricator, Factory OS in nearby Vallejo, Calif., which used union labor, to manufacture apartments that stack atop a concrete podium.
An additional layer of complexity under the Title V rules is the site must serve for a minimum of 30 years those who have experienced homelessness. Gualco said making the transaction possible required a hefty operating subsidy, particularly challenging in a city where the average rent for a fair-market studio apartment was $1,416, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s 2022 Out of Reach report.
“You need an operating subsidy to do that because obviously the rent we collect from the unhoused people doesn’t keep the lights on or pay the insurance bill, so you need a really, really long commitment of those operating subsidies,” Gualco said. “In our case, the city and county of San Francisco gave a 30-year commitment of operating subsidy through the general fund,” Gualco said. “That was pretty critical to this whole scheme.”
Gualco said making the overlap of the Title V requirements match with the rules and regulations of the LIHTC program was complicated.
“Navigating that was one of the biggest challenges in the development,” Gualco said. “Investors, lenders, you have to get everyone on board with the idiosyncrasies of working with this program that is administered by Health and Human Services out of D.C. It’s an unusual construct.”
In addition to the practical and bureaucratic challenges were legal ones. A neighboring condominium association filed multiple lawsuits asserting in court documents that the clinic would “attract drug dealers and related crime.” The last of the suits, which sought to relocate the homeless clinic to the busier Mission Street side of the building, was dismissed in August 2021.
“They thought the clinic would create undesirable activity on that alley,” Gualco said. “That’s sort of a novelty. ‘Nothing exists yet, but we know it’s going to be bad.’ It could make closing not happen. We worked through that. We worked with JPMorgan Chase and the feds. We were able to close while that lawsuit progressed and settled in a good way.”
In addition to navigating all of the complexity, construction began in March 2020, right as lockdown for the COVID-19 pandemic began. Gualco said 1064 Mission was no stranger to the pressures and difficulties many other developments under construction at that time faced such as supply chain issues.
ECS owns and manages 1064 Mission while providing a bevy of support services for residents, including:
Macy Leung, senior director of housing development for ECS, was effusive about what the development will do for residents and others in the Mid-Market neighborhood.
“Given the overrepresentation of Black and Latinx persons in San Francisco’s homeless population, this development supports the needs of minorities as well,” Leung said. “By offering robust support services that improve the quality of life for residents, 1064 Mission plays a crucial role in ending the cycle of homelessness while providing wraparound services that help individuals heal and pursue their goals.”
Vossoughi echoed those sentiments.
“It’s going to create a huge impact for the residents,” Vossoughi said. “For all the future residents that are able to call 1064 Mission their home, hopefully, it’s a steppingstone. These are 256 more individuals off the street who are now going to have a place to call home. … Any unit of housing we can build is a positive, and the more we can build that is affordable to the average individual, especially in a city like San Francisco that’s high priced, is critical.”
JPMorgan Chase provided more than $76 million in construction financing and more than $53 million in low-income housing tax credit equity through NEF.
Vossoughi said the most rewarding part of the process came during the grand opening ceremony in February.
“We were able to physically see the results of everyone’s hard work on the project,” Vossoughi said. “We saw the residents enjoying their new home and heard directly from them about the impact and benefits these new homes were having on their lives. We also got to see residents learning in the classroom services space. … It was an amazing day, and every day since Mission opened its doors has been special.”
Leung is optimistic that Mercy, ECS and JPMorgan Chase have helped blaze a trail that others will be able to follow and benefit from when it comes to forging a path for navigating the complexities of developments under Title V.
“1064 Mission Street sets an example for jurisdictions across the country in leveraging the federal properties to build permanent housing to address the homelessness crisis,” Leung said. “The development is a national model, bringing together multiple best-practice elements to help San Francisco’s most vulnerable, chronically homeless neighbors achieve housing stability, improve health outcomes and lead stronger, more independent lives.”
Adapted with permission from “1064 Mission untangles layers of complexity to bring largest permanent supportive housing site to San Francisco,” Nick DeCicco, Novogradac Journal of Tax Credits, March 2023.
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