Multifamily Rental Housing
Healthy place features
A brief is a short version of a case study.
Located in the Mission Bay South neighborhood, 1180 Fourth Street is a 150-unit affordable housing development in San Francisco. Anchored by a University of California, San Francisco, research campus and medical center, the mixed-income, mixed-use area is rapidly evolving. In addition to establishing an architectural identity for the neighborhood, this walkable and transit-oriented development advances long-term health and stability, family housing, and sustainability.
Context for Development
In the 1180 Fourth Street development, there are 100 units for low-income families (50 percent or below the area median income [AMI]) and 50 units for formerly homeless families (subsidized so that no one pays more than 30 percent of his or her income on rent). These one-to-three-bedroom units often house multiple generations; of the more than 700 residents, over one-third are under 18 years old. Common spaces—including a community garden and courtyard—bring residents of all ages together and promote a sense of social connection.
Tenant services and amenities include an exercise room, a community garden, outdoor table tennis, a prominent staircase, and courtyards with spaces for soccer and wiffleball. The building includes low–volatile organic compound (VOC) products to improve indoor air quality, passive air ventilation, and an abundance of natural light. And, a local nonprofit organization provides on-site social services, including mental health care. Residents get preference in placement and reduced fees for the on-site family daycare program.
Featuring different architectural styles, and with activation from retail, townhouses, and community spaces, the design of 1180 Fourth Street creates a bustling feel for Mission Bay’s main street. Like the other city-funded affordable housing developments in Mission Bay South, 1180 Fourth Street sets design and quality standards for the market-rate developers likely to begin projects in the area. “The development has a civic presence with a lot of civic responsibilities, both in terms of its physical design and programming,” explains Mithun’s Anne Torney, adding that the funders and developers shared these values throughout the process.
Features in 1180 Fourth Street to promote physical, mental, and community health include the following:
- An exercise room. A fitness room allows residents to exercise at no cost.
- A community garden. There will be a community garden for growing vegetables, and planters are available for use by residents.
- Daycare. On-site daycare services run by residents enable parents to work or search for jobs while having a safe and healthy place for their children. Two apartments were originally designated as a daycare, but this program was so popular that two more residents have started their own small daycare businesses as well.
- A shared kitchen. A kitchen provides a space for the community to host events.
- Green courtyards. The courtyards have outdoor table tennis, barbecues, a large movie screen for community movie nights, and soccer and wiffleball.
- On-site social services. Social services are provided by Episcopal Community Services, a local nonprofit group, including mental health care for residents.
- Materials and design. The building features low-VOC products, passive air ventilation, and natural light.
- Sustainable features. Sustainable features include sunshades, on-site stormwater treatment and filtration, and solar hot water heating.
Since opening, leaders from 1180 Fourth Street have been working to address acute housing needs. The complex received 2,983 applications for 100 available units, which were determined by lottery. The San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Homeless and Supportive Housing refers previously homeless families for the remaining 50 units. At the time it opened, 1180 Fourth Street was home to 261 children, 116 of whom were formerly homeless.
Health outcomes reflect the transformative impact of housing stability. Mercy Housing conducted a survey in 2017 in which 51.2 percent of respondents rated their health as excellent or very good, up 11.5 percent from 39.7 percent in 2015. The corresponding average rating for supportive properties in California was 32.6 percent.
Since 2018, 1180 Fourth Street has delivered 2,086 services—including informal case management, a grief and loss group, youth art therapy, job search assistance, a healthy walking group, and financial budgeting classes—and has served 257 people. In the case of one resident who lost her job while getting treatment for stage four breast cancer, resident service coordinators helped her find parking so that she could easily get to her radiation treatments. Now in remission, she is working full time at a community market.
Beyond these services, the development’s relationship with the neighborhood, such as proximity to parks, also advances health and well-being. “It’s part of a neighborhood that was deliberately designed to promote a lot of the points that are articulated in the Building Healthy Places Toolkit, like walkable streets and mixed uses,” Torney says. “It’s in a context that represents those strategies. But even in that context, it’s a real workhorse in how it supports healthy living and neighborhood character.”
Today, 1180 Fourth Street is a model of excellence in design, sustainability, and well-being in affordable
housing, winning the 2016 American Institute of Architects (AIA) Housing Award in the multifamily housing category. By demonstrating the potential for housing to contribute to long-term health and stability, 1180 Fourth Street successfully serves as the “Gateway to Mission Bay” and sets a high bar for the neighborhood’s continuing development.
- Developer: Mercy Housing California
- Design team: Mithun Solomon (executive architect); initiated as WRT/Solomon E.T.C.; Kennerly Architecture and Planning (associate design architect); Full Circle Architects (associate architect)
- Project size: 150 units (100 units for families at 50 percent area median income [AMI] and 50 units for formerly homeless families); 11,000 square feet (1,022 sq m) of retail space; 4,000 square feet (372 sq m) of community space, including a teen room, a computer lab, a fitness room, and flex rooms; and a 48-space parking garage with car share
- Project cost: $70.66 million
- Financing: California Department of Housing and
Community Development’s Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Program; Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure; Bank of America; California Tax Credit Allocation Committee; Silicon Valley Bank; California Community Reinvestment Corporation (CCRC); California Debt Limit Allocation Committee
- Mental health features: Mental health services provided on site; green space; mental health care referrals
- Physical health features: Exercise room; community garden; low-VOC products to improve indoor air quality; kitchen; courtyard with space for sports; sustainable features
- Source: ULI Building Healthy Places Initiative: