San Francisco is changing.
As the bubble inflates and the housing market continues to surge, marquee developments and luxury complexes get most of the headlines. But the other end of the market is also undergoing a radical transformation. Faced with market-driven realities, San Francisco is changing its approach to public housing.
After decades of planning, construction began in January on a project that will completely transform the Potrero Hill housing projects, some of the oldest public housing in the city. Faced with an uncertain future, current residents are skeptical about their place in the new plans.
“It’s frustrating because I don’t know what they’re going to do with me, and we don’t have a choice. We don’t," said Antoinette Cowden, a Potrero Hill resident, about the new development.
Built in the 1940s, the Potrero projects are home to roughly 1,200 people divided into two sections, Potrero Terrace and Potrero Annex. Residents are isolated, and the buildings are run-down and neglected. It is the essence of the old public housing model.
The ambitious Potrero Hill development, the third project in the citywide Hope SF initiative, will completely replace all 600 public housing units, as part of a denser, integrated mixed-income community that will also include market-rate housing and retail space. The other three Hope SF developments are in Hunters View, Alice Griffith and Sunnydale. Construction on both Hunters View and Alice Griffith is underway, and phase one of Sunnydale is expected to break ground soon.