Exterior photo of Tahanan property

Dedication of Tahanan, A permanent supportive housing community, ushers in a new strategy for fighting the homelessness crisis

Mercy Housing, Tipping Point Community, and the San Francisco Housing Accelerator Fund partner to provide 145 affordable apartment homes.

April 29, 2022

SAN FRANCISCO: With the dedication of the new Tahanan community at 833 Bryant Street, San Franciscans celebrated the addition of 145 much-needed permanent supportive apartment homes – as well as the introduction of a powerful new approach to help people transition out of homelessness.

Tahanan was built in half the time and at 30% lower expense than comparable projects. The development was expedited by modular construction technology and innovative financing methods.  This process represents a blueprint for tackling some of California’s most devastating challenges related to affordable housing, including financing issues and long construction times. The high costs of land and labor in San Francisco make it the most expensive place to develop affordable housing in the state, which has so far limited the ability of the city, developers, and service providers to build new housing for people exiting homelessness.

“Addressing homelessness requires collaboration between the private and public sectors, and this project is a great example of that,” said San Francisco Mayor London Breed. “These 145 units at the Tahanan will not only provide permanent housing for people experiencing homelessness, but they also demonstrate ways that new modular construction can help bring us closer to addressing chronic homelessness in an innovative and efficient way. I want to thank all the partners for their work on making this project a reality and their commitment to helping address the needs of our most vulnerable communities.”

“The success of Tahanan shows there’s no excuse for handwringing about the homelessness crisis. We have the tools we need to make a real impact, and it’s time to use them,” said Doug Shoemaker, President of Mercy Housing California, the affordable housing nonprofit that built, owns, and operates Tahanan.

Tipping Point Community and the San Francisco Housing Accelerator Fund spearheaded the project concept and financing for Tahanan. Together, they provided the upfront philanthropic funding for the project and set ambitious goals of developing each unit for under $400,000 – significantly below average for San Francisco, where costs can exceed $600,000 per unit – and completing the community in less than three years. Leveraging a generous philanthropic investment from Charles and Helen Schwab enabled all partners to meet these goals and complete the project without any upfront public funding.

“We have proven solutions to our community’s challenges, we just need the public will and courage to put them into action,” said Sam Cobbs, CEO of Tipping Point. “Tahanan is a shining example of what we can do as a region if the philanthropic, private, and public sectors partner to leverage each of our essential roles in creating a stronger Bay Area.”

Through the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, the City of San Francisco entered a long-term lease for Tahanan, which will cover debt service on the project’s permanent loan. The Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing will also ensure that the new homes permanently serve households who have experienced chronic homelessness through the long-term lease and by providing operating subsidies and funding the onsite services.

“Delivering quality homes in under three years and for less than $400,000 per home isn’t a fantasy. Tahanan proves we can innovate, even in San Francisco,” said Rebecca Foster, CEO of the San Francisco Housing Accelerator Fund. “We did it. Now, we have to work together to do it again.”

“This innovative collaboration has created a wonderful and welcoming home for 147 people exiting homelessness,” said Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing Director, Shireen McSpadden. “Tahanan truly represents a deeply committed partnership coupled with a meaningful intention to add to the SOMA community fabric.”

The use of modular construction, in which all units are completed offsite and then stacked together at the final location, greatly helped expedite the building process. An independent analysis from UC Berkeley’s Terner Center for Housing Innovation found that the combination of strategies used to develop Tahanan led to a significant savings of time and expense and can be replicated as a model for building 100% affordable housing more cost-effectively.

As of today, 147 San Franciscans have moved into Tahanan, exiting homelessness, and gaining access to supportive services designed to help them improve their health and achieve their goals. Episcopal Community Services of San Francisco, one of the region’s most well-regarded providers of services for individuals and families experiencing homelessness, provides free onsite services to all residents including case management, care coordination, substance use and behavioral health treatment, education, vocational training and access to employment opportunities, and health and wellness programming.

“The speed it was built, the high caliber of the building design and aesthetic, and cost efficiencies produced by leveraging modular technology are representative of the best our community has to offer in developing new Permanent Supportive Housing,” said Episcopal Community Services’ Executive Director Beth Stokes. “We know that housing, paired with supportive services, is the solution to resolving chronic homelessness and ECS is humbled by the opportunity to collaborate with our nonprofit and government partners to provide the critical and transformative supportive services to all the San Franciscans who call Tahanan home, effectively ending their homelessness by offering a tranquil and healing environment in which they can thrive.”

Designed by David Baker Architects, Tahanan’s architecturally striking façade pays homage to its location in the SOMA Pilipinas Filipino Cultural Heritage District with a metallic pattern evoking the Banaue Rice Terraces and textured concrete formed with bamboo and baníg mats. The building’s name means home in Tagalog. All studio apartments are equipped with en-suite bathrooms and kitchens, and the development includes a spacious, landscaped courtyard decorated with colorful murals, a community room, and social services offices. The building was constructed by Cahill Contractors, and modular units were built by the unionized Bay Area-based firm Factory OS. The building was completed in November of 2021 and was fully leased as of February 2022.

CONTACT: Rosalyn Sternberg, rosalyn.sternberg@mercyhousing.org, 415-355-7157