Certificate of Preference Program & Marketing Requirements

Certificate of Preference Program

During the 1960s and 1970s, SFRA, as part of the federal urban renewal program, displaced many residents and businesses from its project areas. In 1967, the SFRA initiated the COP program to residents of housing who were displaced by its activities. 

The COP does not guarantee a certificate holder any particular housing unit but provides the holder with a preference over other applicants of affordable housing sponsored by OCII, provided that the Certificate Holder meets the financial and other qualifications of the unit. 

A primary goal of the COP has been to provide an opportunity for those displaced to return to the Project Area from which the resident was displaced. The COP program is authorized under the California Community Redevelopment Law (“CRL”), which limits the preference to low- to moderate-income persons who were displaced. The preference only applies to housing that is affordable to low- and moderate-income households. 

At the direction of the OCII Commission in FY13-14, OCII staff initiated a more robust early outreach and marketing protocol to ensure that as many COP holders as possible obtain housing, and to maximize the number of COP holders who live outside of San Francisco but want to return. Table 9 shows success, over the past eight years, as measured by the increased number of COP holders housed, COP holders who applied for housing,  and those returning to San Francisco. 

OCII contracts with MOHCD to assist with marketing our affordable units, and MOHCD manages the COP program for both OCII and MOHCD projects. Importantly, MOHCD staff works with COP holders to navigate through the marketing and lease-up process.

MOHCD provides an annual report to the OCII Commission describing the COP program for OCII sponsored projects, accomplishments, and next steps in greater detail. 

COP program highlights for OCII sponsored projects over the past eight fiscal years are shown in Table 9.

Marketing Requirements

OCII relies on an early outreach plan and tenant selection plan (“Marketing Plan”) for each OCII sponsored project as tools to guide marketing. OCII requires affirmative marketing to COP holders during the early phases of construction in order to allow applicants sufficient time to prepare for and take advantage of any community based or City sponsored rental or  homeownership readiness programs. OCII also requires developers to outreach to COP holders and connect them to rental and homebuyer readiness workshops. 

MOHCD uses its web-based application system, the Database of Affordable Housing Listings, Information and Applications (“DAHLIA”) for all OCII sponsored affordable housing, to streamline the application process to make it easier for COP holders and others seeking affordable rental or homeownership housing opportunities. MOHCD partners with several non-profit agencies to support rental readiness and eviction prevention programs targeting Bayview Hunters Point and Western Addition residents as well as applicants to assist in using DAHLIA and to prepare residents for successful tenancies/occupancies.

Table 9: COP Program Highlights Five Years Ending FY20-21

  FY20-21 Total
Past 8 Years
FY19-20 FY18-19 FY17-18 FY16-17 FY15-16 FY14-15 FY13-14
COP Holders Housed - 83 3 13 18 38 6 3 2
COP Holders Returned to San Francisco - 30 1 4 11 9 1 3 1
COP Holders Applied for Housing 12 407 20 59 61 86 13 95 61
New Certificates Issued 34 457 31 30 61 55 111 73 62
Lottery Units Available 108 1,391 216 247 350 186* 78 184 22

*Of the 186 units, a total of 120 are senior units and have Project Based rental vouchers.