What Happened?

One project within San Francisco’s Hope SF initiative is a walking school bus system that helps students from low-income homes get to school safely and consistently throughout the year. Hope SF is an overarching effort the city created to improve housing projects through social services.

The Goal

The Hope SF walking school bus program calls upon members of the housing project community to work together in improving educational outcomes, safety and physical activity of students by walking them to school in large groups. San Francisco has a number of housing projects-related initiatives in place that aim to convert underserved, low-income communities into thriving neighborhoods. The caveat is the city aims to accomplish these transformations without displacing residents from their homes,The Atlantic Cities reported.

Hope SF is very similar to Seattle’s NewHolly program that focuses on building community programs in low-income neighborhoods. NewHolly, however, is mostly supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.  Hope SF, on the other hand, is funded by public and investors such as the public-private partnership between the city of San Francisco, the San Francisco Foundation and the Enterprise Community Partners. The campaign has raised $7 million of its $25 million goal by 2016 so far.

Aside from helping students get to school safely, Hope SF is also working with developers to connect public housing areas with other neighborhoods and replace the structures one at a time, while adding private homes as well. All private housing units will generate profits for Hope SF which will be used to fund and maintain all public housing efforts alongside any government support.

The short and long-term goals of Hope SF include:

  • Transform 2,500 public housing sites into thriving, sustainable mixed-income communities
  • Rebuild existing sites in phases so as to impose minimal disruption to residential life
  • Engage and collaborate with residents and neighbors to generate support, ideas and long-term success
  • Build infrastructure with green technology and materials for the utmost in sustainability
  • Reintroduce the neighborhoods once improvements are complete

If the projects are successful, Hope SF aims to extract best practices on how to work with community members to create an alternative financial model for improving and supporting public housing.

Public Housing Breakdown

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, about 1.2 million households across the country live in public housing units. HUD offers federal aid to qualifying local housing agencies to manage the units, as well as provides technical and professional assistance for all planning and implementation.

Project Based Section 8 housing programs are government-funded and provide privately owned and managed rental houses at affordable prices. Rather than individuals applying for public housing assistance, Section 8 is a subsidy that sticks to the physical housing infrastructure. Residents must qualify to become tenants, but if they move out the assistance stays with the unit.

Because federal funding for public housing is leveraged across the country, the HUD has a system to determine eligibility and rental prices. Each local agency, however, is in charge of how the money is used for projects. Thus, Hope SF can focus all government assistance on the building of physical infrastructure and work through a sustainable financial plan for long-term maintenance.

House Funding

EfficientGov has kept track of different housing projects across the country, many of which are incorporating green technology into new builds.

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Originally posted at EfficientGov.