Community Renewed on Potrero Hill

photo of Micah and daughter at 1101 Connecticut
Century Housing Corporation
BRIDGE Housing
$1 million AHP Grant

Inspired by the YouTube-stardom aspirations of his 7-year-old daughter Mileesa, Micah is pursuing a new career in the film and video industry. Shaqueta, single mother of two, is training to be a medical assistant and dreaming of buying a home of her own. And at 75-years young, “Miss Pat” is keeping busy preserving neighborly traditions for the community of former public housing tenants and others now making their home in a brand-new apartment complex at 1101 Connecticut on San Francisco’s Potrero Hill.

Patricia West, better known as Miss Pat, is proud to be vice president of the tenant’s association at 1101 Connecticut, the first completed apartment building in the planned redevelopment of an 80-year-old, 38-acre public housing site in San Francisco. The contrast between the decaying housing that she and most of her fellow tenants left behind to move into new family apartments just across the street is stark. “It was rotten: the floors, the water, everything was messed up. Here, everything is beautiful,” Miss Pat says.

The new building is a LEED Gold-certified housing complex featuring studio, one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments, with 53 of the units occupied by families and individuals who moved directly from their dilapidated Potrero

Inspired by the YouTube-stardom aspirations of his 7-year-old daughter Mileesa, Micah is pursuing a new career in the film and video industry. Shaqueta, single mother of two, is training to be a medical assistant and dreaming of buying a home of her own. And at 75-years young, “Miss Pat” is keeping busy preserving neighborly traditions for the community of former public housing tenants and others now making their home in a brand-new apartment complex at 1101 Connecticut on San Francisco’s Potrero Hill.

Patricia West, better known as Miss Pat, is proud to be vice president of the tenant’s association at 1101 Connecticut, the first completed apartment building in the planned redevelopment of an 80-year-old, 38-acre public housing site in San Francisco. The contrast between the decaying housing that she and most of her fellow tenants left behind to move into new family apartments just across the street is stark. “It was rotten: the floors, the water, everything was messed up. Here, everything is beautiful,” Miss Pat says.

The new building is a LEED Gold-certified housing complex featuring studio, one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments, with 53 of the units occupied by families and individuals who moved directly from their dilapidated Potrero Terrace and Annex housing units into brand-new homes. “1101 Connecticut is particularly significant, as it’s the first building we completed under the HOPE SF Potrero master plan,” said April Talley, BRIDGE Housing’s Senior Project Manager, Potrero. 

San Francisco’s ambitious HOPE SF initiative is the nation’s first large-scale community development effort aimed at disrupting intergenerational poverty, reducing social isolation, and creating vibrant mixed-income communities without mass displacement.

We all live here as a community, we all take care of each other, people here help each other.
 

Resident Patricia West

The project received a $1 million Affordable Housing Program (AHP) grant through FHLBank San Francisco member Century Housing Corporation. “We were delighted to partner with Century Housing to secure the AHP grantan essential component of the project’s complex financingand as a result, 72 families now have a beautiful, well-managed place to call home," Talley continued.

“While just one element of the funding pool necessary to realize 1101 Connecticut, Century was pleased to help BRIDGE housing access vital AHP funds,” said Nick Friend Vice President of Lending at Century. “Each unit newly created in the City is a hard fought but worthwhile struggle. We hope this provides safe and sustaining housing for those that need it for years to come and contributes to providing equitable access to housing for all the City’s diverse residents.”

Preserving and Building Community

Most of the residents of the new building have deep roots in the neighborhood. Miss Pat’s partner, John W. Smith, who is also a past president of the resident council at Potrero Terrace, may have lived there the longest of anyone: his family moved into the now-demolished apartments on Wisconsin Street in 1955. The move is an adjustment for all. “It’s a different environment,” Miss Pat says. “But we all live here as a community, we all take care of each other, people here help each other — I work with everybody, with the sick people, the old people who need help. Whatever they need done, I enjoy doing it.”

Miss Pat loves to cook, and before the COVID-19 crisis, the new community had instituted monthly potluck dinners, organized by floor. During COVID, regular deliveries of fresh vegetables and fruit, canned goods, and staples, came from the food bank and were organized and passed out by Miss Pat and other volunteers. “It really helps the families here, because a lot of people can’t afford that food,” she says. The children in the community also benefit from free books given by the San Francisco Public Library, with books bundled together to complement summer reading programs available for pickup in the lobby.

Room to Pursue New Goals

Shaqueta Carson, 30, and her 10-year-old daughter, Essence, spent much of last year’s COVID-19 shelter-in-place period each in her own room attending virtual school. Shaqueta is studying to become a medical assistant and Phlebotomy and EKG technician. Essence has finished fifth grade and enrolled in summer school to prepare for middle school: she’s been accepted into the SMART program, which champions education equity by supporting students in overcoming systemic barriers on their journey to a college degree. “My daughter makes me really proud,” Shaqueta says. “She’s such a sweetheart and really smart, too.”

Shaqueta moved into her new apartment about a week before her son Adonis was born. She was grateful that her move-in was expedited so that she wouldn’t have the baby while all her things, including supplies for the new baby, was in boxes in the old place on Wisconsin Street. Adonis, now two years old, has spent most of his young life sheltering-in-place. Now he’s fascinated to be seeing more of the outside world, and with many people still wearing masks, he asks for one for himself.

“My whole family is from this neighborhood,” Shaqueta says. She got on the lengthy waitlist for housing at Potrero public housing when she was just 18. “And then when I was a single mom living in San Leandro, my rent was high. When my daughter turned three, the Housing Authority gave us a call, and my life got easier,” with family, including her grandmother, nearby. Her grandmother will be moved to new housing in the second phase of the redevelopment.

We’re in a world where there are a lot of obstacles for us. I have smart kids, I’m proud to be their mom. I teach them to be the best they can be.
 

Resident Shaqueta Carson

In a city as unaffordable as San Francisco, access to safe, stable, subsidized housing makes it possible to work toward a better life. For Shaqueta, her apartment at 1101 Connecticut is a stepping-stone. While spending 30% of her income on rent, she’s working at night as a security guard while studying and interning for her new medical career. She can see herself, in a few years being able to buy a home outside the City, probably in Fairfield, for her family. “We’re in a world where there are a lot of obstacles for us,” Shaqueta says. “I have some smart kids, I’m proud to be their mom, I teach them to be the best they can be.”

Micah Allen’s family came to San Francisco from Texas when he was six years old, looking for better opportunities. He’s known most of his current neighbors in the building and others in the neighborhood for 20-30 years. “They’re cool, good people. I’m proud to call Potrero home,” he says. But the conditions of the public housing buildings were awful. “They were 80-year-old army barracks with some walls put up to section them off into apartments. Then after the war, they moved people in to have cheap housing. But they never improved them, it just stayed the same and got worse over time, concrete falling apart. Now we have a modern building and it's just all the way better.”

Micah’s seven-year old daughter Mileesa lives with him part time in his new two-bedroom apartment. He’s working nights as an armed security guard but, inspired by Mileesa’s passion for making YouTube videos, he’s learning video production through Bounce Back Generation, a local nonprofit. They’ve created their own online TV channel, showcasing videos made by the community, for the community in Potrero Hill. “We create content and film geared toward a specific topic, resilience,” Micah says. “We’ve made videos on what it's like to cope, how to survive the COVID shutdown and stuff like that.”

I’m getting some money now working on films. A new career would give me more time to spend with my daughter.
 

Resident Micah Allen

One of the things Micah and Mileesa liked to do together to cope during COVID was learning to cook healthy, with Mileesa in charge of seasonings. “She’s smart, she likes science and gets into all kinds of stuff.” Having a safe, affordable place to live in the City gives people a chance to explore new opportunities, as Micah is doing. “The hours working security are terrible,” Micah says. “I’m getting some money now working on films. A new career would give me more time to spend with my daughter.”

  • portrait of Miss Pat
    Miss Pat enjoys the courtyard.
  • Image of 1101 Connecticut Apartment Interior
    Image Credit: Keith Baker
  • photo of Miss Pat with groceries at 1101 Connecticut
    Making sure groceries from the food bank get to those who need them.
  • Photo of Shaqueta with donated books
    Shaqueta picks up summer reading for her kids, donated by the public library.
  • photo of Micah with laptop
    Micah Allen is in training for a new career in video production.
  • run down building at Potrero Annex
    Potrero Annex before redevelopment.
  • photo exterior 1101 Connecticut
    1101 Connecticut courtyard playground.
  • photo of micah and daughter playgournd
    Micah and Mileesa.
  • photo of child
    Mileesa, 7, is an aspiring YouTube star.
  • photo of Miss Pat and John Smith
    Miss Pat and partner John Smith.
  • Image of 1101 Connecticut Exterior
    Photo Credit: Keith Baker

Century Housing and Century Affordable Development, Inc.

FHLBank San Francisco member Century Housing Corporation, a mission-driven Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) supporting quality affordable home development throughout California, has submitted successful AHP applications for 46 projects since 2011, for a total of $40.3 million in subsidies.

Affiliated nonprofit Century Affordable Development, Inc., has been awarded $8 million for nine projects, in partnership with other Bank members.

Together, these AHP grants have been used to help create more than 4,100 quality affordable housing units for people who need it most.

Access to the AHP definitely is a big plus. It helps many Century borrowers and allows us to increase the value of our relationship with them in yet another way.
 

Alan Hoffman, SVP and Chief Financial Officer, Century Housing Corporation