First New Affordable Housing Development on Treasure Island Moving Forward

Maceo May Apartments, 100% affordable, will feature 104 new homes for homeless and formerly homeless veterans

On Friday May 29th Mayor London N. Breed announced the City has taken a major step forward in the development of 104 permanently affordable homes on Treasure Island with the construction finance closing of the Maceo May Apartments. Site work and construction will commence this summer. The redevelopment of Treasure Island will ultimately include 8,000 new homes, over 27% of which will be affordable, 550,000 square feet of retail and commercial space, 300 hotel rooms, and 290 acres of public open space.

“These last few months have shown us how crucial it is to have a safe, affordable place to call home,” said Mayor Breed. “It’s more important than ever that we keep building high-quality affordable housing and supporting our most vulnerable residents. Making progress on these new homes for veterans is an exciting step in the City’s promise create a revitalized Treasure Island and make San Francisco a more affordable place to live for everyone.”

Rendering of future Maceo May residential development on Treasure Island
Rendering of Maceo May Apartments courtesy of Mithun

Maceo May Apartments is a 100% affordable, all-electric modular-built housing project and is being developed by Swords to Plowshares (STP), in partnership with Chinatown Community Development Center. Maceo May Apartments will provide 104 permanent supportive housing units for homeless and formerly homeless veterans, including veterans who currently live on Treasure Island. STP is a charter member of One Treasure Island, a non-profit organization committed to fostering an equitable, inclusive, and thriving community that includes formerly homeless and low-income San Franciscans.

“As the first new affordable housing project on Treasure Island, Maceo May is an exciting part of the redevelopment that will provide critical replacement units for current residents, and house additional formerly homeless and low-income veterans,” said Supervisor Matt Haney. “The Island is one the most diverse and low-income communities in San Francisco, and it’s exciting to see new affordable housing come to life with the incredible partnership of Swords to Plowshares and Chinatown CDC.”

The building is named in recognition of the dedication and advocacy of Maceo May, a Vietnam War veteran who worked at STP for 12 years and subsequently served as a board member for 14 years, until his passing in 2014. Maceo’s advocacy played a crucial role in ensuring homeless veterans would be recognized and served on Treasure Island and in the Presidio, and he remains a role model today for his staunch perseverance.

Treasure Island was activated as a United States Naval Base in 1940 and played a substantial role in World War II and the Korean War. In 1993, the Federal Government placed the Treasure Island Naval Station on its Base Realignment and Closure list and it was formally decommissioned in 1997. In 1994, the City began to conduct hearings and community meetings that informed the redevelopment plan that will result in a new San Francisco neighborhood incorporating residents of various socio-economic backgrounds. The Treasure Island Development Authority (TIDA) was also formed in 1997 as a non-profit, public benefit agency dedicated to the economic development of the former Naval Station and the administration of municipal services.

“Local history has been made with the final financing approvals for the Maceo May Apartments,” said Sherry Williams, Executive Director of One Treasure Island. “After 25 years of planning, a former military base will now begin its housing development in earnest, with the first affordable project serving homeless and formerly homeless veterans. It is a fitting honor to those who have served and who have struggled with housing and it is a fitting tribute to Maceo May, our first Board President and Swords to Plowshares’ tireless Housing Director.”

“This is a tremendous milestone in the process of converting the Naval Station to civilian use, and it was important to everyone involved that this first project acknowledge the service of our nation’s veterans,” said TIDA Director, Bob Beck. 

Maceo May Apartments will be completed in 2022 and is made possible by financing support from the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development, TIDA, the State of California Veterans Housing and Homelessness Prevention Program, Raymond James, Silicon Valley Bank, and the California Community Reinvestment Corporation. Operating subsidies will be delivered through the City’s Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing Continuum of Care program and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program.

“We are thrilled to be moving ahead with Maceo May Supportive Housing for formerly homeless veterans,” said Michael Blecker, Executive Director of Swords to Plowshares. “I think Maceo, our first-ever Housing Director and champion for homeless veterans, said it best himself that ‘former military bases that were once used to transform young men and women into instruments of war now are used to eliminate their depression, desperation and destitution while beginning to cultivate once buried dignity, dreams and aspirations.’ It truly represents the meaning of turning swords into plowshares.”

“Chinatown CDC is proud to be partnering with Swords to Plowshares to build housing for homeless veterans at a time when the cost of our homelessness crisis could not be more clear,” said Chinatown CDC Executive Director, Malcolm Yeung. “Starting construction on this critical supportive housing project in the middle of a pandemic and financial crisis is a huge accomplishment that took perseverance from our City and private financing partners. We are thrilled to be carrying out their mandate to build 104 apartments for veterans exiting homelessness.”

Community Driven Partners

Founded in 1994, One Treasure Island’s (One TI) charter was to ensure that supportive housing and employment programs for formerly homeless households were an integral component of the reuse plan.  Maceo May was One Treasure Island’s first Board President. Since 1999 both market rate and formerly homeless households have been living in former Navy housing on an interim basis. Well over 10,000 homeless and low-income San Franciscans have been and continue to be served on Treasure Island in housing, employment and financial services provided by One Treasure Island and its members, including Swords to Plowshares and Chinatown Community Development Center who are codevelopers of Maceo May Apartments. Other One TI members include Catholic Charities, Community Housing Partnership, Mercy Housing California, Health Right360, Rubicon Programs, and Toolworks.

Redeveloping the Island

Treasure Island Community Development (TICD) was selected to be the master developer for Treasure Island in 2003 and played an integral role in shaping the reuse plan that was approved by the Board of Supervisors and then-Mayor Newsom in 2011 along with environmental findings and transaction documents. As the master developer, TICD is responsible for all utilities, site improvements, and other public facilities and infrastructure and will oversee the development of more than 6,000 market rate housing units. TICD’s first new residential project on adjacent Yerba Buena Island will be completed in 2021.