The Affordable Homes Now Ballot Measure

It is no secret that we have a housing shortage in San Francisco. We aren’t building enough housing for the people who make this City run: our Muni drivers, our nurses, our teachers, our first responders, and our street cleaners. We have among the highest rents of any city in the entire world, and it is no coincidence that we face a homelessness crisis as well.

Since I took office, I have been focused on addressing the housing shortage in San Francisco that is pricing out low- and middle-income residents. We have had some victories — like the $600 million affordable housing bond we passed — but the reality is that we have a broken system for approving and permitting new homes in our City, which results in fewer homes being built and higher prices for all of us.

Mayor London Breed at the opening of the John F. Kennedy Towers Apartments

Anyone who tells you that we don’t need fundamental reforms to building housing, or that we need years of review before a project can be approved while we’re in the middle of a historic housing shortage, is simply wrong. They are arguing for the status quo, which is failing us.

I’ve proposed changes to fix this, but too many people in City Hall continue to fight against even incremental steps. When I proposed a charter amendment last year that would streamline the creation of 100% affordable housing, we couldn’t even get a majority of Supervisors to vote to put it on the ballot.

I refuse to allow this crisis to deepen while people are suffering and struggling to pay rent. We need bold action to build more housing. It is clear that those interested in protecting the status quo are not going to allow these reforms to pass the Board of Supervisors, so I am going to take this directly to the voters.

I am proposing Affordable Homes Now, a ballot measure for November 2020 that streamlines the approval for 100% affordable housing and projects that includes more on-site affordable homes than currently required by the City. This will eliminate years of delays and unnecessary costs.

The people of San Francisco are tired of elected officials prioritizing politics over good policy, so we’re going to place Affordable Homes Now on the ballot by collecting signatures directly from San Francisco voters.

In my inaugural address, I committed to building 50,000 new homes over the next ten years. To get there, we have to change how we build housing now. We can’t let the next generation of kids growing up here get priced out. We can’t let communities like mine — families who grew up here, who worked hard to raise their kids here — be displaced out of this city, and out of this state. We can’t let the status quo continue.

This ballot measure will create more homes — including new affordable homes — and remove the costly delays and bureaucracy that continue to block new homes from being built.

Simply put, if a new housing project falls within existing zoning and meets any of the following criteria, it is subject to by-right approval, instead of the lengthy bureaucratic approval process that currently exists.

  1. The project includes 15% more affordable homes on-site than otherwise required by the City.
  2. The project is 100% affordable housing.

That’s it. If the project meets any of these criteria, we should build it and we should build it now.

A study from Terner Center at UC Berkeley found that the average time for a development to be permitted in San Francisco is roughly four years. Under Affordable Homes Now, qualifying projects would be required to be permitted within six months. No longer would new affordable homes been subject to the 3, 5, and sometimes 10 years of delay that have unfortunately become the reality in San Francisco.

Affordable Homes Now protects the housing we already have and requires projects to be multi-family. It also requires that projects pay workers prevailing wage, so that the people who are building these new homes can afford to live here too.

By making this change, we can shave years from project approval and save millions of dollars of project costs on 100% affordable housing. By streamlining the housing permitting process, we can be sure that limited public dollars are used to fund affordable housing, not dealing with endless bureaucracy.

Join me. Together, we can be a San Francisco that finally says YES to housing. We can be a San Francisco for ALL of us.

Show your support for Affordable Homes Now by signing the petition at AffordableHomesNow.com

Mayor Breed with supporters of the Affordable Housing Bond

45th Mayor of the City and County of San Francisco

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store