Delancey Street, San Francisco


Name: Delancey Street

Location: San Francisco, Los Angeles

Completed: 1991

Number and type of affordable/social housing dwellings: The Delancey Street mixed-use complex houses approximately 500 people in 177 two-bedroom residential units for low to moderate income earners, and those at risk of homelessness. The development is four stories, and spans over a whole city block. The development includes street level retail tenancies, vocational schools, a public restaurant, an outdoor espresso café, and bookstore. All these social enterprises are staffed by tenants through a vocational training program, as well as being overseen by experienced participants and qualified staff. Housing is provided without charge as long as tenants participate in the program. An interior courtyard also contains a health club, a 500-seat assembly hall, and a 150-seat screening room. There is also space for 179 car parking bays and an auto-body repair shop.


Area of housing continuum: Homelessness; social enterprise; job integration.

Client group served: Mixed income, homeless, ex-felons, drug and alcohol substance abusers

Project value: $31 million / 325,000 square feet

How it was delivered: The project was delivered as a joint venture between 250 Delancey Street residents, Apersey Construction and the San Francisco Building Trades Council. It was primarily built and supervised by Delancey residents, developed by Mimi Silbert and contracted by the Delancey Street Foundation. The design of the complex was challenging due to the site’s high water table, height limits, and triangular lot shape, but the Italian-design inspired complex designed by Backen, Arrigoni & Ross balances a mix of uses and pedestrian-scale development with green space. All construction materials, design services and furnishings were donated to the project.

Funding: The joint venture social enterprises run by the Delancey Street Foundation provide ongoing service funding, as well as donations. A $10 million unsecured loan was also obtained from the Bank of America.

How affordability is ensured long term: Housing is provided by the Delancey Street Foundation to participants of the vocational training program and funded by its social enterprise business ventures.

Other information: The complex is a ‘self-built’, ‘self-managed’, ‘self-help’ development that encourages those at risk of homelessness to support themselves financially whilst providing them shelter for a minimum period of two years (the average stay is four years). The training program provides 300 formerly unemployable ex-felons, drug addicts, and persons experiencing homelessness with skills in building trades supported by unions. A high school equivalency degree is offered to program participants. Training is also provided in purchasing, contracting, accounting and computer services.


Honor Award - AIA, San Francisco, 1992

ULI Special Award - Urban Land Institute, 1992

Urban Design Award - AIA, California Council, 1991

Gold Nugget Grand Award - PCBC, 1991


Hakiman, K. (2012). Model Program - Delancey Street. Retrieved from

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