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"We're proud to celebrate the grand opening of the Edwin M. Lee Apartments in Mission Bay, and to recognize the contributions of the late Mayor Lee in the effort to create more affordable housing in our city," said Mayor Breed. "Creating new housing plays a critical role in our efforts to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. These new homes contribute to our efforts to build back and make San Francisco even more affordable, equitable, and vibrant."
The Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure (OCII) oversaw the development of Edwin M. Lee Apartments. It is the fourth 100% affordable development to be completed in the Mission Bay South Redevelopment Project Area. Swords to Plowshares, a nonprofit veteran service agency and Chinatown Community Development Center (CCDC) partnered to bring the project to fruition.
"Our beloved Mayor Lee dreamed of a dynamic, diverse, affordable San Francisco, and so it is fitting that these new apartments in the heart of our city bear his name," said Speaker Nancy Pelosi. "Thanks to the leadership of Swords to Plowshares, CCDC, Mayor Breed and their community partners, more than a hundred families and veterans now have an affordable home through this initiative that lives up to Mayor Lee's legacy. As we Build Back Better in a post-COVID world, we must ensure that every San Franciscan and every American has a roof overhead, the embrace of a community and can live with dignity."
The affordable housing programming for the site was initially developed in response to President Obama's Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness as well as Mayor Lee's 10-year San Francisco Plan to Abolish Chronic Homelessness. The development advances Mayor Breed's efforts to make housing in San Francisco more affordable and to create homes for people experiencing homelessness.
The affordable project was designed to serve the unique needs of the tenants. The building emphasizes natural light and provides spaces for residents of all ages to gather. These include a computer lab, teen room, a children's playroom thoughtfully placed adjacent to the laundry room with a large window so that parents can easily supervise children, and a large community room with a kitchen. The building wraps a two-level courtyard with walking paths, seating areas, a barbeque area, and hand-ball wall.
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"I spent eight years homeless. When I lived in the shelters I didn't feel safe sleeping. I was tired. I was actually physically, emotionally, mentally tired," said Edwin M. Lee Apartments resident and Veteran Reggie Barham. "But now being at home and being able to come back home...that's beautiful. And peaceful. My mind is at peace."
The housing development was the first in San Francisco to secure funds from the State of California Veterans Housing and Homelessness Prevention Program (VHHP), and received a $10 million award in 2018. The project was also awarded 55 project-based Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing vouchers, which were leveraged to secure permanent financing. In addition, seven veteran-serving units receive rental subsidies through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Continuum of Care program.
"CalVet is honored to be included in the dedication, having funded a portion of the project through our Veterans Housing and Homelessness Prevention (VHHP) program. Providing housing with critical supportive services further reinforces California's commitment to the men and women who answered our nation's call to defend the Constitution and our freedoms," said CalVet Secretary, Dr. Vito Imbasciani.
"Naming this building after Mayor Lee is appropriate on so many levels. He helped secure the federal and local commitments to make the project happen. He also brought affordable housing into the center of our collective consciousness as a city and allowed the local policy to work in favor of affordable housing," said Malcolm Yeung, Chinatown CDC's Executive Director. "To me, Mayor Edwin M. Lee will always be San Francisco's affordable housing mayor."
"New housing development is a massive undertaking. An impressive project like this one that pulls together key partners from federal, state, and local leadership deserves the recognition and celebration the COVID crisis didn't let us have when we officially opened in late February of 2020," said Swords to Plowshares Executive Director, Michael Blecker. "After 45 years serving homeless and at-risk veterans in San Francisco, we know that stability and the path to recovery start with housing. For veterans who suffer from poverty, lack of support network, PTSD, and other disabilities, permanent supportive housing is the solution that will save their lives."
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Edwin M. Lee Apartments benefitted from a $4.5 million private donation from a group of donors organized by San Francisco Citizen's Initiative of Technology and Innovation (sf.citi), an organization committed to engaging technology sector leaders and workers to tackle community challenges in San Francisco. The group includes the Conway family, Marc and Lynne Benioff, Peter Thiel, Sean Parker, Andrew Mason, Drew Houston, Alfred and Rebecca Lin, the Golden State Warriors, and two anonymous donors
"Mayor Ed Lee was a leader in securing affordable housing here in San Francisco," said Supervisor Matt Haney. "This project and its fulfillment is a true reflection of his legacy. Affordable housing is our best tool to end homelessness and keep families in San Francisco. This important project is an example of what we can get done when residents, housing providers, and our City work together. I'm thrilled to celebrate another affordable development in District 6."
"Our dear friend Ed Lee devoted his life to public service as a civil rights lawyer, a housing activist, and Mayor. I can think of no greater tribute to our late Mayor than to dedicate this new supportive housing for formerly homeless veterans in his name. The tech sector and members of sf.citi were proud to raise private funding to support this and other housing projects, demonstrating the continuing importance and power of public-private partnerships for the benefit of the most vulnerable San Franciscans," said Ron Conway, Chair of sf.citi.
Major financing for Edwin M. Lee Apartments was provided by a $20.1 million investment from OCII that enabled the $78 million project to move forward. In addition to the City's investment, the development was made possible by financing from the State of California's VHHP. Other financial partners include the California Community Reinvestment Corporation, California Debt Limit Allocation Committee, California Tax Credit Allocation Committee, Wells Fargo Bank, and the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco.
"Edwin M. Lee Apartments is a beautiful addition to the diverse, growing Mission Bay neighborhood," said Sally Oerth, Acting OCII Director. "Along with essential housing for low-income families and previously unhoused veteran households, the project provides thoughtfully designed shared spaces to facilitate connections between residents and to the greater community. OCII applauds the work of our partners and is proud of our role in guiding this project from vision to reality."
The five-story building, designed by local architects, Leddy Maytum Stacy and Saida Sullivan, includes studios, one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom apartments. Construction started in December 2017 and the first residents moved into the building in early 2020.
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