San Francisco, California

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Demonstration Site: Citizens Housing Corporation’s Folsom/Dore Apartments

Final Case Study Report August 2005

Citizens Housing Corporation (CHC) is a non-profit, public benefit corporation established in 1992 to increase and preserve affordable housing opportunities for Californians. With San Francisco as the most expensive housing market in the country, Citizens Housing is responding to the severe shortage of economical housing across the state by building new affordable homes and preserving existing units at risk of conversion to market-rate housing. Citizens Housing’s current development portfolio includes over 2,000 units throughout California, over 90% of which are affordable to low-income seniors and families earning between $12,000 and $30,000.

Project Description

[IMAGE: Rendering of project.]Designed by David Baker + Partners Architects (with Baker Vilar Architects), the Folsom/Dore Apartments is located at the corner of Folsom Street and Dore Alley in the heart of the South of Market (SOMA) District of San Francisco. The area has a variety of land uses, including retail, general commercial, home, personal and business services, light industrial, institutional, cultural arts and artisan, live/work space, parking, and residential. The surrounding development is comprised of three-to-four-story, mixed-use buildings with retail stores on the ground level and apartments on the upper level.

The Folsom/Dore Apartments project included construction of 98 new units of multifamily housing. These are affordable to residents at or below 60% of the Area Median Income, with almost half affordable to households at or below 27% of the Area Median Income. The units are a mix of studios, one-bedrooms, and two-bedrooms ranging in size from 500 to 800 square feet. Many of the units targeted to residents with a variet of special needs, including the chronically homeless. [IMAGE: Folsom Dore building in progress]

The development is four levels of frame construction over a Type I concrete structure. It includes 30 parking spaces in a single-level, partially submerged garage and approximately 3,200 square feet of flexible community space housing on-site programs and services along the Folsom Street frontage. While not historic, the existing building has been partially retained to help integrate the overall project with the surrounding neighborhood. There is also about 3,500 square feet of open space, which includes a courtyard at the front entry and a ground-level courtyard in the rear.

As of June 2005, the Folsome/Dore project team is gathering documentation on the project to apply for a LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified rating from the U.S. Green Building Council. If they are successful, which is highly unlikely, then this project would be the first affordable housing project in the United States to reach such an achievement.

Partners and Funders

Community partners for the Folsom/Dore Apartments include the City of San Francisco and the Episcopal Community Services (ECS). The project was funded through the State of California Multifamily Housing Program (MHP), tax credits, tax-exempt bonds credit-enhanced by Citibank, the Federal Home Loan Bank Affordable Housing Program (AHP) grant, and local gap financing provided by the Mayor’s Office of Housing in San Francisco.


The Folsom Dore project includes multiple sustainable and PATH-recommended technologies and techniques:

Transit Oriented Development (TOD)
Brownfield Development
Photovoltaic (PV) System
Construction Waste Management
Construction Indoor Air Quality Management
Fly Ash Concrete
Structured Wiring Systems
Drainwater Heat Recovery
ENERGY STAR qualified refrigerators and clothes washers
Compact Fluorescent Lamps
Fiber-Cement Siding
Formaldehyde-Free Cabinets
Recycled-Content Vinyl Flooring
Recycled Content Carpet Padding
Low- or No-VOC Paints
Low-Flow Plumbing Fixtures
Latex Foam Sealant
Plastic-Wood Lumber
Dedicated Recycling Areas
Status Updates:

June 2005 — The project team continued to gather information to document the LEED® credits achieved. The goal is to submit the full documentation package to USGBC by July 2005.

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