New Chiu Policy Prioritizes Descendants of Displaced Residents for Affordable Housing Opportunities

Legislation would give “certificates of preference” to the children and grandchildren of people displaced by redevelopment initiatives

For immediate release:
Housing removed as a result of redevelopment policies


Sacramento, CA—Under a new proposal authored by Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco), descendants of people displaced under redevelopment would receive priority in affordable housing lotteries. Assembly Bill 1584, which passed the California State Assembly yesterday, would allow cities to prioritize the descendants of people displaced by urban renewal initiatives for city-funded affordable housing opportunities.

“The legacy of redevelopment in many communities has been one of generational poverty,” said Assemblymember Chiu. “As residents directly impacted by redevelopment have gotten older, it makes sense to extend this program to their children and grandchildren. This change will help to rectify some of the harm done in the past and give a new generation the opportunity to afford to live in San Francisco.”

"Redevelopment cut through the heart of the community I grew up in, and we are still living with the pain and impacts of those horrible decisions today,” said San Francisco Mayor London N. Breed. “I'm greatly appreciative of Assemblymember Chiu for his work on this issue, and most importantly for listening to the community. This legislation will give an opportunity for the families who have deep roots in San Francisco to return home and reconnect with the communities of their parents and grandparents."

In the 1960s and 1970s, thousands of people were displaced from their homes as redevelopment agencies carried out urban renewal initiatives. In San Francisco, this resulted in mass displacement of communities of color in neighborhoods like the Western Addition and Bayview.  

Under current law, cities are allowed to issue “certificates of preference” to residents who were displaced under redevelopment. A certificate of preference gives a person the highest priority when applying for housing that is funded or assisted by a redevelopment successor agency. Certificates of preference can be used in city-sponsored lotteries for both rental units and homeownership opportunities.

San Francisco has a robust certificate of preference program administered by the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development. It prioritizes residents impacted by redevelopment displacement for Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure (OCII) projects or city-funded housing projects. 

The policy announced today, included in Assembly Bill 1584, the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee’s annual omnibus bill, would make descendants of those displaced by redevelopment eligible for a certificate of preference. Descendants are defined as children, grandchildren, or other lineal descendants. 

To receive a certificate of preference, applicants must meet all of the existing eligibility requirements, including restrictions on income. Certificates of preference do not come with any rental subsidies or cash assistance. 

San Francisco leaders commended the proposed policy change.

“So many families have been displaced from the communities they helped create here in San Francisco and the certificate of preference (COP) policy was put in place to allow families to remain in the neighborhoods they helped build,” said San Francisco Board of Supervisors President Shamann Walton (representing District 10). “We have always needed to strengthen our COP policies and allow for descendants of displaced people to remain in community, AB 1584 will add the increased preference we need, while we continue to fight for more ways to combat gentrification.”

“I am proud to serve alongside fellow OCII commissioners who are laser focused on justice and equity,” said Commissioner Bivett Bracket, Commission on Community Investment and Infrastructure. “While we cannot turn back the hands of time, we each have a moral duty to make good on the promises made by previous administrations and government officials. The federal 1949 Housing Act, allowed the former SF Redevelopment Agency to unjustly force thousands of families out of their homes with the promise of replacement residences for those whom were displaced. Over 50 years has passed, yet many families and businesses were not given an opportunity to return.  Hopefully, this legislative amendment passes thru the CA State House and Senate quickly so that we can take this small step forwards to begin to repair the harm that was caused to community icons like Leola King.”

AB 1584 is expected to be heard in a Senate policy committee this summer.