A decision by federal housing authorities to block a San Francisco ordinance setting aside spaces in affordable housing projects for neighborhood residents could set back efforts to prevent the displacement of low-income and minority residents, city officials and residents said Thursday.
The ordinance, approved 9-2 by the Board of Supervisors in December, sets aside 40 percent of units in new affordable housing projects for residents already living in the supervisorial district where they are being built.
However, city officials this week said they had been notified by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that the plan could violate federal laws intended to prevent housing discrimination and the perpetuation of segregation.
The neighborhood housing preferences legislation was put forward as a way to address the displacement of low-income and minority residents, particularly in the city's black community, which had declined from 13.4 percent of the population in 1970 to 5.5 percent by 2014.
The legislation drew opposition from some supervisors and community residents, who argued that it would encourage segregation and not benefit residents in neighborhoods such as the Sunset District where little affordable housing is being built.
HUD's decision will have an immediate impact on how spaces are allocated in the Willie B. Kennedy Apartments, a senior housing development opening this month in the Western Addition neighborhood that used HUD funding. Officials had hoped the project could offer some homes to some seniors in that neighborhood's dwindling black community.
Board President London Breed, co-author of the legislation with Supervisor Malia Cohen, on Thursday said the fight was not over.
"I want to be crystal clear: non-HUD-funded projects will still use neighborhood preferences in San Francisco," Breed said in a statement.
"And we as a community are going to roll up our sleeves and continue pushing for neighborhood preferences for all affordable housing developments in San Francisco."
"The soul of San Francisco's neighborhoods are on the line and we must to do everything we can to ensure local residents can remain in San Francisco and the communities they live and grew up in," Cohen said.