June 6, 2018

Though San Francisco’s rising housing costs are garnering plenty of headlines, lesser known among the community are the efforts on the part of the city to help connect residents to affordable housing resources. FUSE fellow Kimberly Dubin is working at the Mayor’s Office of Housing & Community Development (MOHCD) to bring more attention to these efforts by helping increase awareness of the many different programs available to residents. MOHCD provides financing for the development, rehabilitation and purchase of affordable housing in San Francisco, coordinates the city’s housing policies, and funds essential community services.

Last month, Dubin launched a series of eight videos that depict the different ways in which the city’s existing programs have impacted the lives of San Francisco residents. The first in the series, posted below, portrays the story of Bobby Cocharn, a longtime resident of Bernal Heights, a neighborhood that has dramatically gentrified in the past several years. Cocharn talks about how the city helped rehabilitate his apartment, which is in one of the oldest public housing buildings west of the Mississippi River.

The videos are posted on the MOCHD Facebook page and website, as well as SFGovTV, YouTube, and other relevant media platforms. All of the testimonials are archived at the MOHCD site here.

Here, we talk with Dubin about why sharing these stories is critical to helping the community.

What’s the current impression of San Francisco residents about the state of affordable housing? How does that impression correlate to the reality?

If you live in or near San Francisco, you are aware there is an affordable housing shortage. Several major economic factors play into this—income disparity in the Bay Area, unprecedented construction costs, and diminishing resources from the federal government.

What’s the city’s aim in creating and sharing these videos? Who’s the target audience?

The intent of telling the real stories of San Francisco residents is to help educate the public on the Mayor’s Office of Housing & Community Development’s commitment to tackling the housing shortage in San Francisco. These stories highlight the many efforts to create more housing at a range of income levels for people with different backgrounds and circumstances.

What message does the city hope that viewers will take away after seeing these videos?

We want people to know that we understand how difficult it can be for San Franciscans to find or keep an affordable apartment or house. The city is committed to maximizing the creation and preservation of affordable housing in San Francisco, and we are working tirelessly to bring additional resources to the table. We are also collaborating with our development partners and other city departments to reduce costs and provide housing faster, as the San Francisco Chronicle reported on recently.

We also want to encourage people to take advantage of existing programs. The Mayor’s Office of Housing & Community Development offers several below market rate rental and homebuyer programs, from building new affordable rental apartments to offering down payment loan assistance for qualified low to middle income first-time homebuyers.

How do the videos ladder up to a larger strategic plan for the city to communicate its messages?

The testimonials are one of several efforts underway to increase awareness of the city’s affordable housing programs and connect more residents to available resources and services in San Francisco. We are working to simplify and standardize information across our public-facing platforms and provide excellent, compassionate service to those seeking affordable housing—whether they call us, visit our website, or walk into our lobby for help.

[Photo credit: SFGocTV]