In 2006, Mayor Gavin Newsom and Supervisor Sophie Maxwell convened a broad-based task force to represent diverse perspectives and to develop a set of principles that would become the HOPE SF Initiative. One impetus for HOPE SF is a 2005 study entitled “The Seven Key Street Corners for At Risk Families in San Francisco”. This study found that a majority of families in crisis live within walking distance of seven distinct street corners and that five of these intersections are in or near public housing developments. Also, reduced investment by the federal government in public housing renovation and revitalization led the city to conclude it needed to develop its own solutions to addressing the physical and social conditions of public housing. Click HERE to read an exerpt from the HOPE SF Task Force recommendations to the Board of Supervisors.
Potrero Terrace and Annex consists of about 60 buildings over 38 acres (including streets). When built, “benches” were cut out of the steep slopes following the natural topography and buildings placed on the benches to reduce the cost of soil cut and fill. While this created efficiencies at the time, the resulting street configuration represents a radical departure from the typical San Francisco grid and ensured that these developments would be physically and socially isolated from the rest of Potrero Hill.
Of the families living at Potrero Terrace and Annex, virtually all are in financial distress. For both sites, the percent of adults with earned income (as opposed to income from government sources) is approximately 30%; a low percentage even compared to other public housing in San Francisco. The full-time employment rate is extremely low at 7%, with an additional 7% of residents who hold part-time or seasonal employment. Approximately 44% of Potrero Annex and 62% of Potrero Terrace residents receive public assistance and approximately 60% to 70% receive food stamps. The median income across the two sites is $14,600, reflecting the high concentration of poverty at Potrero Terrace and Annex. The economic demographics of Potrero Terrace and Annex are in stark contrast to the rest of Potrero Hill (zip code 94107) where the median family income is approximately $80,000 and the average family income is approximately $135,000.
Demolishing and rebuilding Potrero Terrace and Annex will achieve a number of very important goals.
- Rationalizing the street grid and creating more north/south and east/west connections that will bind the neighborhood together physically and socially.
- Create an economically integrated neighborhood by replacing all of the 606 deteriorating existing public housing units, building new affordable rental apartments, and integrating market-rate for-sale homes.
- Create economic opportunities for residents.
- Provide a new main street that will be the hub and heart of the community with many opportunities for positive interaction between neighbors.
- Provide comprehensive case management services and community building programs and activities that will link low-income families to the services they need and help heal the social fabric and address the issue of intergenerational poverty.