Rebuild Potrero is grounded in the City of San Francisco’s HOPE SF initiative, which seeks to transform four of San Francisco’s most distressed public housing sites into vibrant, thriving communities through holistic revitalization. Potrero Terrace and Annex is one of the four active HOPE SF sites.
In 2005, an assessment of San Francisco public housing indicated that the San Francisco Housing Authority (SFHA) needed to invest at least $267 million to repair and renovate its housing sites. The SFHA, San Francisco elected officials and community leaders concluded that unless the City developed its own solutions to the public housing crisis, living conditions in public housing would continue to worsen. In 2006, then-Mayor Newsom and then-District-10 Supervisor Sophie Maxwell convened a diverse, broad-based task force to develop a set of principles that would become and guide the HOPE SF Initiative. Appointees to this task force included public housing residents, affordable housing advocates, community-based organizations and business owners. More information about HOPE SF can be found here and here: http://hope-sf.org/. And click HERE to read an excerpt 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 in the 1940’s and 50’s, “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 approximately 600 families living at Potrero Terrace and Annex, virtually all are in financial distress. The portion of adults with earned income from full time employment (as opposed to income from government sources) is approximately 15% — a low percentage even compared with other public housing in San Francisco. Approximately 44% of Potrero Annex and 62% of Potrero Terrace residents receive public assistance, and approximately 60% -70% receive food stamps. The median income is $14,600, reflecting an extremely high concentration of poverty as compared to the rest of Potrero Hill where the median income is approximately $135,000. Only 56% of Potrero public housing residents have graduated from high school, compared with 86% of San Francisco residents. Another important social and economic indicator is the low level of enrollment in preschool and high chronic absentee rates among elementary and high school students. Of the 3- to 4-year-olds living in PTA, only 30% attend pre-school. The chronic absence rate (missing more than 10% of school days with unexcused absences) for PTA students in grades K-12 is 53%. At the elementary school level, approximately 35% of PTA students are chronically absent.
HOPE SF aims to shift public housing models away from the failed paradigm of large, isolated islands of poverty and deteriorating housing toward a new vision of high-quality, mixed-income housing developments with strong social service support for families. HOPE SF’s innovative model for revitalizing public housing draws on more than 15 years of lessons learned from Hope VI, as well as research by the Urban Institute, Brookings Institute, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and Harlem Children’s Zone.
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.