SDHC 40th Anniversary A History of Helping San Diegans (1979-2019)

Established in 1979, the San Diego Housing Commission (SDHC) provides a variety of award-winning affordable housing programs and services that stimulate the local economy, revitalize neighborhoods, and impact the lives of thousands of San Diegans with low income and/or experiencing homelessness.

As the agency celebrates 40 years of providing housing assistance in the City of San Diego, SDHC has earned a national reputation as a model public housing agency, creating innovative programs that provide housing opportunities for individuals and families.

Spreckels Theater Building - 1st SDHC Headquarters

SDHC Board of Commissioners Organizational Meeting

January 5, 1979

The organizational meeting of the SDHC Board of Commissioners is held, at which Commissioners are sworn in and establish a regular meeting schedule and guidelines for conducting business. The creation of a semi-independent housing commission, proposed by then-Mayor Pete Wilson, had been approved by the City Council less than two months earlier, in November 1978.

Later this year, SDHC staff begin operations from offices on the fourth floor of the Spreckels Building, at Broadway and Second Avenue in Downtown San Diego—56 employees and a budget of $15.3 million.

Mesa Verde: Supported by the City’s Housing Trust Fund

City of San Diego Housing Trust Fund

March 6, 1989

The San Diego Housing Commission (SDHC) approves the appointment of members of a San Diego Housing Trust Fund Task Force to work with SDHC and City staff to develop a specific proposal for implementation of the Housing Trust Fund for the City of San Diego.

This effort contributed to the San Diego City Council’s adoption on April 16, 1990, of an ordinance establishing the City of San Diego Housing Trust Fund as a permanent and annually renewable source of revenue to meet, in part, the housing needs of the city’s very low-, low-, and median-income households.

SDHC’s Nonprofit Affiliate

April 17, 1990

SDHC’s nonprofit affiliate, Housing Development Partners, incorporates under the name “San Diego Housing Development Corporation” to develop and preserve affordable housing for seniors, families, veterans and tenants with special needs who have low-income and/or are experiencing homelessness.

This nonprofit changes its name to Housing Development Partners (HDP) in 1998.

HDP’s real estate portfolio expands significantly from 2008 to 2018, increasing 275 percent in that time, from 410 units to 1,537 units.

Photo by Griffin Photography

SDHC’s New Home

January 3, 2007

SDHC’s new offices open at 1122 Broadway, part of the Smart Corner development that also includes ground-floor retail space and underground parking near a major transit corridor.

The SDHC Board of Commissioners and Housing Authority of the City of San Diego approved a Purchase and Sale Agreement with developer Lankford & Associates in 2003 for the development of this new building, with SDHC acquiring the building upon completion of construction.

Landmark Public Housing Conversion

September 10, 2007

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) approves a landmark agreement with SDHC to transfer full ownership and operating authority over 1,366 public housing units to SDHC – the largest public housing conversion ever done at the time.

Richard C. Gentry (center), SDHC President & CEO

New SDHC President & CEO

September 19, 2008

Richard C. Gentry becomes SDHC’s President & CEO. Under his leadership, SDHC transforms from a traditional public housing authority to an organization nationally recognized for its innovative approaches to providing housing assistance to San Diegans with low-income and/or experiencing homelessness.

In October 2017, Mr. Gentry receives the M. Justin Herman Memorial Award, the highest recognition awarded by the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO), for lifetime service to the affordable housing industry.

Today, with more than 46 years of service and leadership in affordable housing and community development, Mr. Gentry continues to lead SDHC, an agency with more than 300 employees and an annual budget of $388 million.

Richard C. Gentry, SDHC President & CEO

A ‘Moving to Work’ Agency

January 14, 2009

SDHC renews its “Moving to Work” (MTW) designation from HUD. MTW status gives SDHC the flexibility to implement a variety of innovative, cost-effective approaches to provide housing assistance in the City of San Diego.

SDHC is one of only 39 public housing agencies, out of 3,400 nationwide, to receive an MTW designation.

SDHC President & CEO Richard C. Gentry serves on the national MTW Steering Committee, which includes all 39 MTW agencies.

SDHC Achievement Academy

With MTW flexibility, SDHC creates the SDHC Achievement Academy, which opens on October 4, 2010. This learning and resource center and computer lab at SDHC headquarters provides programs that emphasize career planning, job skills, and personal financial education.

SDHC Achievement Academy - CPR Training Class

These programs are available at no cost to Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher rental assistance participants and public housing residents.

Path to Success

On July 1, 2013, SDHC implements Path to Success, an MTW initiative that encourages Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher rental assistance participants to become more financially self-reliant.

Path to Success modifies the method SDHC uses to determine the portion of the monthly rent that rental assistance families and public housing residents pay. The new rent methodology is designed to motivate families to increase earnings.

SDHC guides Work-Able families to become more financially self-reliant through enrollment at the SDHC Achievement Academy.

Innovative Finance Plan

October 13, 2009

The San Diego City Council, sitting as the Housing Authority of the City of San Diego, approves SDHC’s innovative Finance Plan to leverage the equity from the real estate portfolio of former public housing units that had been transferred to SDHC through a landmark agreement with HUD on September 10, 2007.

With this Finance Plan, SDHC creates or preserves 810 affordable rental housing units through direct purchases or public-private partnerships.

Addressing Homelessness

July 1, 2010

SDHC begins to administer the City of San Diego’s (City) Homeless Shelters and Services Programs and becomes one of the initial public housing agencies in the nation to receive approval to use is federal rental housing voucher funding to provide long-term housing to San Diegans experiencing homelessness.

Under the leadership of then-Mayor Jerry Sanders, the City turns to SDHC to administer homelessness programs, such as the City’s Emergency Winter Shelters, Neil Good Day Center and Cortez Hill Family Center, through a Memorandum of Understanding between SDHC and the City.

In addition, SDHC lays the foundation for the implementation of the “Housing First” model of addressing homelessness in the City of San Diego by using federal rental housing voucher funding to address homelessness.

Today, SDHC has committed more than 4,000 vouchers to provide long-term housing for individuals and families experiencing homelessness.

SDHC Strategic Plans

January 17, 2014

The SDHC Board of Commissioners approves a two-year, agency-wide Strategic Plan that identifies three major goals:

  • Create and Preserve Quality Affordable Housing
  • Provide Housing Choice Voucher Families with Opportunities for Them to Become More Financially Self-Reliant
  • Foster a Culture of Excellence and Innovation

Building on the agency’s accomplishments from this Strategic Plan, SDHC develops a four-year Strategic Plan, approved by the Board of Commissioners on September 9, 2016, that identifies three new goals:

  • Maximize resources through operational efficiencies and technological innovations
  • Increase the number of housing opportunities that serve low-income and homeless individuals and families in the city of San Diego
  • Advocate for more effective affordable housing policies and resources

These Strategic Plans provide SDHC with a framework to identify how it can have the greatest possible impact with limited financial resources.

HOUSING FIRST – SAN DIEGO, Homelessness Action Plan

November 12, 2014

The launch of SDHC’s homelessness action plan, HOUSING FIRST – SAN DIEGO, on November 12, 2014, provides an effective, diverse funding and housing strategy that is rooted in the national “Housing First” model of addressing homelessness – to provide housing as quickly as possible, with supportive services as needed.

HOUSING FIRST – SAN DIEGO began with five initiatives and during Fiscal Year 2016 (July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2016) expanded to include three additional initiatives.

From 2014 to 2017, the initiatives of HOUSING FIRST – SAN DIEGO created more than 2,900 permanent housing opportunities for San Diegans experiencing homelessness.

With the start of a new fiscal year on July 1, 2017, SDHC launches the next phase of its homelessness action plan, HOUSING FIRST – SAN DIEGO.

SDHC directs $79.7 million in federal, City of San Diego, and SDHC resources over three fiscal years (2018 – 2020) toward six programs to provide permanent housing opportunities for at least 3,000 San Diegans experiencing homelessness.

Housing Affordability Crisis Recommendations

November 25, 2015

The San Diego Housing Commission (SDHC) publishes the report, “Addressing the Housing Affordability Crisis: An Action Plan for San Diego.” SDHC is one of the first public housing authorities in California to develop a comprehensive blueprint to identify the costs of developing affordable housing and make recommendations on how to lower those costs.

Recognized and cited by other organizations throughout California, this report includes 11 recommendations for action at the local, state or federal level.

Action occurred on all 11 recommendations, including SDHC’s publication on September 21, 2017, of a follow-up report, “Addressing the Housing Affordability Crisis: San Diego Housing Production Objectives 2018 – 2028.” This report identifies the City of San Diego’s housing needs over the next 10 years and sources of potential additional housing units.

On February 9, 2018, SDHC published a third report, summarizing the actions taken on all 11 recommendations from the initial report in 2015, “Addressing the Housing Affordability Crisis: 2018 Status Report.”

Hotel Churchill Renovation

September 19, 2016

The grand reopening of the historic Hotel Churchill is celebrated. SDHC’s renovation of Hotel Churchill creates 72 permanent supportive housing units for individuals experiencing homelessness: 56 units for Veterans, 8 units for transitional age youth ages 18-25, and 8 units for adults exiting the corrections system.

The award-winning renovation of this 102-year-old building includes the unprecedented provision of on-site supportive services from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to Veterans who experienced homelessness before residing at Hotel Churchill.

SDHC Expands Choice Communities Initiative

January 1, 2018

SDHC expands its Choice Communities Initiative, an MTW program originally launched on January 1, 2010, that provides families that receive rental assistance with more flexibility to choose to live in neighborhoods that offer more opportunities for transportation, schools and employment.

To increase housing opportunities and to continue to assist as many families as possible, SDHC divided City of San Diego ZIP Codes into three groups, each with its own payment standards (the maximum subsidy payment that the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher would pay for an apartment or rental house, minus the applicable tenant rent portion):

  • Choice Communities
  • Enterprise Communities
  • Signature Communities

SDHC Partnership Designated as EnVision Center

June 7, 2018

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Dr. Ben Carson announces that an SDHC partnership is selected as one of HUD’s new EnVision Centers.

SDHC is collaborating with the City of San Diego and San Diego Workforce Partnership for the EnVision Center, with the support and leadership of Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer.

Located at the South Metro Career Center, the San Diego EnVision Center promotes financial self-reliance among federal rental assistance participants and public housing residents.


February 7, 2019

SDHC announces that the current phase of HOUSING FIRST – SAN DIEGO has created more than 3,000 housing opportunities for San Diegans experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness, achieving its three-year goal in just 18 months.

Since the initial launch of HOUSING FIRST – SAN DIEGO on November 12, 2014, the homelessness action plan has created more than 6,000 housing opportunities in less than five years, including the Housing Our Heroes initiative, which helped 1,000 Veterans experiencing homelessness secure rental housing.

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