Hunters View public housing celebrates rebirth

Grateful residents celebrated alongside San Francisco city leaders on Friday at the rebuilt Hunters View public housing complex, the first step of an ambitious plan to replace every one of the city’s public housing units.

It has taken about seven years to complete work on the 107 new units that Mayor Ed Lee and U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi visited on Friday, but all seemed to agree that the new units, with their expansive views of San Francisco Bay and the Bay Bridge, were worth the wait.

Pelosi spoke from one of two balconies with sweeping views of the Bay while many residents watched her while enjoying a barbecue lunch. She said she wanted to make sure that the sweeping views of the Bay and the bridge weren’t just set aside for market rate units.

While each of the 267 public housing units will be replaced, the whole project will have a total of 700 units, and 45 percent will be market rate. The previous Hunters View complex was constructed in 1957 and was never intended to be permanent. By the time construction began on the replacements in 2010, many units had become uninhabitable and only 148 families lived there.

Pelosi said:

“The dignity of every person is central to what we do.”

Lee said Pelosi was key in helping secure funding for the project, a challenge even under the “friendly” Obama Administration, so getting federal assistance will likely be an even greater challenge under the new regime of President Donald Trump.

Lee recalled growing up in public housing and promised residents of other public housing projects like Alice Griffith, Potrero Hill and Sunnydale that their homes would be rebuilt as well under the HOPE SF program.

A total of 2,500 units are slated to be rebuilt, funded in part by a $310 million affordable housing bond passed by San Francisco voters in 2015.

Lee said:

“I want everyone to feel that you are not in poverty, you are residents of this city. … We have to find better ways to interrupt generational poverty and that’s what HOPE SF is all about.”

According to Lee, school attendance for Hunters View residents went up by 30 percent as soon as people started moving into their new homes.

Supervisor Malia Cohen, who represents the Hunters Point area, was enthusiastic about the completed project, called rebuilding public housing one of the most transformative projects possible for the community there:

“Thank you to everyone who has lived through the roaches and the rats and the crime.”

Today is your day, Cohen said.