Community Housing Partnerships (CHP) and Bridge Housing Corporation broke ground last fall at Mission Bay South Block 9, also known as 410 China Basin. The 92,000 square foot, four-story structure featuring 141 modular affordable rental studios for formerly homeless individuals, along with on-site supportive services, is expected to welcome inhabitants as early as January 2022. The Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure (OCII) selected the two nonprofits to develop the project in 2017.
“This was an important and desirable site to provide homes for folks in a wonderful neighborhood,” said Rick Aubry, CHP’s chief executive officer. “The City urged that there be a joint venture on it. Bridge, which is a very large nonprofit housing developer, has expertise in getting a project off the ground. CHP has expertise in providing supportive services to the building. For this project, Bridge claims the lead role in the early stages, and CHP will be taking the lead once the building is completed, in management and services at the site.”
Cahill Contractors is overseeing construction. The first floor will be built onsite; living spaces are being fabricated elsewhere.
Factory OS, a Vallejo company pioneering low-cost modular multiunit home construction, is manufacturing the studio apartments. Under the innovative method, modular units for levels two through four will be brought to the site, with cranes attaching them to the building, in April and May. Framing will be done in June, roofing in July, the exterior skin completed in November. The structure will rise 54 feet, eight inches.
The design is U-shaped, with wings that wrap around a landscaped courtyard. The central wing will run along the parcel’s western side, directly behind the Public Safety Building that fronts Third Street. Perpendicular wings will extend along China Basin and Mission Rock streets. The U’s open end will offer public access to a community garden from what’s now an unfinished portion of Bridgeview Way, which’ll become a pedestrian path along the eastern boundary. A community garden, to be cultivated by Mission Bay Development Group, will be installed in December 2021.
“Everyone will have their own apartment. Their own door, their own key. Their own full bathroom, their own closet, kitchenette,” Aubry said.
A shared laundry room, resident lounge, courtyard with seating, fitness trail and dog run will be included. A community kitchen will provide tenants access to a large, prep style galley and post-public health crisis opportunities to participate in nutrition classes.
Eligibility for the studios is based on a person’s needs as determined by San Francisco’s Adult Coordinated Entry system, with a maximum income of 50 percent of Area Median Income (AMI). Currently, 50 percent of AMI for San Francisco is $44,850 for one person, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Residents will likely have incomes below 20 percent AMI and pay 30 percent of their income towards rent.
“Thirty percent of your income is what drives it,” Aubry said. “A typical person who’s living there is on some form of Social Security or Social Security Disability. That’s roughly $1,100 or $1,200 per month, so 30 percent is somewhere in the neighborhood of $350 per month. It could be only $200 per month. Potentially, were somebody to be living with us and have 50 percent of AMI, it would mean $900 to $1,000, but that would be the exception, not the rule.”
Under the Mission Bay South Master Plan, 1,806 housing units, or roughly 28 percent of the total 6,404 homes, are supposed to be affordable to moderate, low, and very low-income households. Project financing for 410 China Basin includes four percent tax credits/bond funding, competitive state credits, and a OCII loan.
The cost to build each unit is estimated at $385,000, compared to a roughly $525,000 average expense for conventional construction. Workers at 410 China Basin include members of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, Local 22, headquartered at 2085 Third Street; Factory OS workers in Vallejo are represented under a contract with the union’s regional board. A November San Francisco Chronicle article reported that Factory OS laborers earn between $50,000 and $60,000, significantly less than the average $108,000 annual paycheck for union carpenters in the City.
“We have approximately 500 union members working in Factory OS,” said Jay Bradshaw, executive director of the Carpenters 46 Northern California Counties Conference Board, which organized the workers, and is “very involved and proactive on recruitment of women, people of color, and people who need a second chance.”
Lower per-unit costs have “created more work opportunity because it’s made a lot of projects viable that might not have been viable due to the costs. A plot of land that should get built that doesn’t get built doesn’t create opportunities for anybody,” Bradshaw said. “We’ve always taken a proactive approach to evolution in technology and delivery system in industry, not to fight it, but to organize it to stay viable in order to grow. Our membership has been very supportive” of organizing Factory OS workers.
“That was an important feature for us; good union work in terms of the quality and union wages,” Aubry said.
Project completion is typically 40 percent faster using the Factory OS system, Bradshaw said, which gets people housed more rapidly.
“Our main mission is to create good middle class union jobs,” Bradshaw said. “We see the production of affordable housing as part of our mission as well.”
A shortage of supportive housing for people exiting homelessness has created a years- long waitlist to be placed through the City’s single point of entry system.
“Many of the people can tell stories of having lived in San Francisco throughout their lives,” Aubry said of occupants in other CHP developments. “Many are African-Americans who were displaced as a result of redevelopment out in the Bayview-Hunters Point.”
CHP has provided services to thousands of formerly homeless people in San Francisco since 1990. It operates numerous sites throughout the City, collaborating with municipal agencies, such as the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, and nonprofits that serve San Francisco’s displaced population. The average length of stay for residents housed in a CHP building is 10 years, after which most find independent living situations.
CHP will provide 410 China Basin residents with case management, mental and physical health services, and, if necessary, access to substance abuse facilities, as well as support enrolling in community college or vocational training. Of high priority is to help newly rehoused individuals stabilize their lives and build community.
“We’ve found that to be a powerful tool for people to become better citizens,” Aubry said. “Staff figures out what community resources are available and are appropriate, a good fit, and welcoming for residents. Very often we have a community volunteer team where we work regularly with our neighbors as far as what opportunities there are for our residents to volunteer, that would benefit the organization, and benefit our residents. The whole goal is a mutual benefit society.”
When first announced in 2017, the project prompted pushback from residents of nearby market-rate buildings, who were concerned that 410 China Basin would be a navigation center or temporary shelter, with a rotating population of short-term occupants. Community meetings were held to inform neighbors that the development would consist of long-term housing. The project received a favorable reception when CHP and Bridge gave an informational presentation of the preliminary concept design to the Mission Bay Citizens’ Advisory Committee in 2018.
“People appropriately are always concerned when anything new comes into a neighborhood,” Aubry acknowledged. “The kind of work we do raises a set of concerns with folks…We’re always willing to have those meetings” with neighbors.
He added that after it opens, 410 China Basin will likely be “just one more building in the neighborhood.”
A virtual community meeting will be held Wednesday, January 27, at 5 p.m. Status updates can be found at https://chp-sf.org/missionbay/. To receive email notifications of upcoming meetings, sign up at email@example.com.