Housing Project, San Francisco

holly%20courts%201940.jpgThe 1937 U.S. Housing Act provided for subsidies from the U.S. government to local public housing agencies for housing for low-income families. San Francisco established its own municipal housing authority in 1938, and immediately got nationally renowned architects to develop plans for for five housing designs for various parts of the city. The city's had a less-than-stellar record with maintaining and managing many of the public housing projects, but some are on their way towards major upgrades and rebuilding plans.

The first public housing project in SF was Holly Courts, designed by Arthur Brown Jr (of City Hall and Coit Tower fame) for a site behind Bernal Heights between Holly Park and Mission Street. The project called for 118 units fronting the street and surrounding an interior of landscaped courts and play spaces. Holly Courts is still a public housing development today.

potrero%20terrace%201941.jpgConstruction of Potrero Terrace housing project, 1941 [Photo: SAN FRANCISCO HISTORY CENTER, SAN FRANCISCO PUBLIC LIBRARY]

Potrero Terrace on the south side of Potrero Hill was started at the same time. The thirty-three acre site, bounded roughly by Cesar Chavez and Pennsylvania Avenues, was designed with winding roads that broke the traditional city grid to hug the hillsides. Instead, the curvy and diagonal grids isolate their residents from the greater neighborhood. The site is now under redesign plans to turn the existing 606 units of the public housing into a community that has 1, 600 units of public, workforce and market-rate housing.

Valencia Gardens in the Mission was another early project, designed by William Wurster and Harry Thomsen with landscape design by Thomas Church. The 248 units were built in 1943, but in more recent years attracted drug deals. In 2006 Van Meter Williams Pollack redesigned the site with 260 apartments designed like individual homes with a front door on the street and a private backyard or back deck.

valencia%20gardens%201942%20large.jpg potrero%20terrace%201940.jpg sunnydale%201941.jpg westside%20courts%20now.png

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Q&A

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How many houses are there in San Francisco?

I'm having no luck finding official records, but the population of San Fran. is over 800,000, there are likely 2 million houses.