Frequenty Asked Questions About Housing

How do I find housing?

BiSHoP suggests visiting your local community centers or social services that post housing listings or outreaching to family members or friends

If you have access to the internet, the most common websites are:

Please note: The content present on these websites do not necessary represent or reflect the views of the Veterans Equity Center.

What is Affordable Housing?

  • Housing in which an individual pays no more that 30%-40% of their total household income for housing.
  • Actual rental payments in affordable housing units depend on the type of affordable housing program or development.

If you are having difficulty paying your rent, are homeless, living in an over-crowded situation or in unsafe or unsanitary housing, you may qualify for affordable housing. To be eligible for affordable housing in San Francisco, your total family or personal income must not exceed limits set by the federal government. This amount is different, depending on the size of your family and on the type of affordable housing that you are applying for.

What is Section 8?

Section 8 is a program that provides housing for individuals living in poverty, as well as the elderly and disabled. It provides qualifying families with assistance in paying the monthly rental fee for homes and apartments that are located anywhere, not just in subsidized housing projects. In every major market in the country it is administered locally by municipal public housing agencies, which certify the tenants and residences for participation in the program.

How do I apply for Section 8?

The waiting list is closed and there are over 20,000 people on the list

What if I cannot afford my rent?

The following organizations provide rental subsidies for individuals and families who need assistance in paying for their rent, security deposits and other housing costs. Please contact each organization individually to inquire about their application process and requirements.

What information do I need to provide when applying for affordable housing?

  • Name, Date of Birth and Social Security Number (Not all developments require SSN)
  • Residential History
    • Landlord’s Contact Information
    • Your Rental History within the last 2-5 years
  • Personal References
  • Employment History
  • Income Source / Verification (For example, your paystubs, award letters, etc.)
  • Bank Statements / Financial Documents
  • List of all persons who will be living in the unit

What is a security deposit?

A security deposit is a landlord’s way of guaranteeing that he or she will be compensated for any damages that may occur while a tenant is living on the property. The amount of this deposit is usually around one month and a half’s worth of rent, but it can be more.

What is Below Market Rate (BMR)?

San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Housing Below Market Rate (“BMR”) Program requires developers to sell or rent 12% of units in new developments at a “below market rate” price that is affordable to lower or middle income households. To be eligible to purchase or rent a “BMR” unit, a household must meet specific income requirements. San Francisco residents and workers are prioritized in BMR rentals and ownership.

How do I apply for a BMR unit?

You can learn about new BMR opportunities through postings listed on the Mayor’s Office of Housing website at or San Francisco’s new housing portal, DAHLIA:  HomeownershipSF ( is another great resource of information on homeownership. New units are posted for at least 28 days before the application deadline. Re-rentals (or properties accepting applications for existing units) usually are marketed for one week.

 Additional Resources:

For more information on Public Housing in California, call the Housing Information and Resource Center is staffed to answer questions/inquiries from the public and PHAs regarding public housing and housing choice voucher programs and regulations (1-800-955-2232)

Please visit the “Resources” page at http:// for more San Francisco and California Housing Resources.

Sources: San Francisco Tenants Union, San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Housing, Housing Rights Committee of SF,,

Additional Resources for Application Assistance:

  • BALANCE (formerly Consumer Credit Counseling
    • Language(s) Available: English, Cantonese, Spanish, Filipino, Russian
    • Services: Credit report review, debt and budget counseling, student loan counseling, homeownership counseling, rental counseling, bankruptcy counseling
    • Address: 595 Market Street, 9th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94105
    • Telephone: 800-777-7526
    • Website:
  • Bayview Hunters Point Multipurpose Senior Services
    • Language(s) Available: English, Cantonese
    • Services: Information/referrals, case management, money management, housing assistance
    • Address: 1706 Yosemite Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94124
    • Telephone: 415-822-1444
    • Website:
  • Homeless Prenatal Program, Inc.
    • Language(s) Available: English, Spanish
    • Services: housing case management for families, financial assistance, weekly housing workshops, pre-natal and parenting classes and support
    • Address: 2500 18th Street, San Francisco, CA 94110
    • Telephone: 415-546-6756
    • Website:
  • Independent Living Resource Center of SF (ILRC)
    • Language(s) Available: English, Cantonese, Spanish
    • Services: Assistive technology, housing, economic empowerment, weekly workshop and support groups on a variety of topics for people with disabilities.
    • Address: 825 Howard Street, San Francisco, CA 94103
    • Telephone: 415-543-6222
    • Website:
  • Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA)
    • Language(s) Available: English, Spanish
    • Services: Financial capability and first-time homebuyers workshops, free tax preparation, workforce development, housing opportunity assistance, digital literacy training
    • Address: 2301 Mission Street, #301, San Francisco, CA 94110
    • Telephone: 415-282-3334
    • Website:
  • San Francisco Housing Development Corporation (SFHDC)
    • Language(s) Available: English, Cantonese, Spanish, Filipino, Samoan
    • Services: Financial empowerment workshops and counseling, supportive services, economic development
    • Address: 4439 3rd Street, San Francisco, CA 94124
    • Telephone: 415-822-1022
    • Website:
  • San Francisco LGBT Community Center
    • Language(s) Available: English
    • Services: Financial capability classes, first-time homebuyer program, affordable housing rentals workshops and counseling.
    • Address: 1800 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102
    • Telephone: 415-865-5555
    • Website:
  • Self-Help for the Elderly
    • Language(s) Available: English, Cantonese, Mandarin
    • Services: health and home care, senior housing, activity centers, employment services, social services, cleaning services, nutrition services, HICAP
    • Address: 731 Sansome Street, #100, San Francisco, CA 94111
    • Telephone: 415-677-7600
    • Website:
  • Tenderloin Housing Clinic
    • Language(s) Available: English
    • Services: Permanent and transitional housing, money management, legal assistance, community organizing
    • Address: 126 Hyde Street, San Francisco, CA 94102
    • Telephone: 415-775-7110
    • Website:
  • The Arc San Francisco (focused on developmentally-disabled persons)
    • Language(s) Available: English, Cantonese, Spanish, Filipino, American Sign Language
    • Services: independent living services, residential services, supported living services, community life skills classes and activities
    • Address: 1500 Howard Street, San Francisco, CA 94103
    • Telephone: 415-255-7200, ext. 190
    • Website:
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