A conversation with the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation on January 9, 2015


Note: These notes give an overview of the major points made by Donald Falk.


Good Ventures spoke with Mr. Falk of TNDC to get an update from the organization, following a grant Good Ventures made to TNDC in June 2014. Conversation topics included an overview of TNDC’s current activities (especially those funded by philanthropy), its recent organizational growth, and its goals for the coming year.

TNDC’s new projects and organizational growth

TNDC started seven new development projects in 2014, including some work on public housing as part of San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee’s “Public Housing Re-Envisioning Plan.” TNDC has nearly 2,000 housing units in its development pipeline. About half of these are new units, and half are renovations on TNDC’s own buildings or on buildings operated by the San Francisco Housing Authority.

Several factors have led to an increase in local funding for affordable housing recently. In addition, the state of California created two pools of affordable housing subsidy in 2014, and as a result, there is significantly more public funding available for affordable housing projects now than there was five years ago coming out of the Great Recession.

Mr. Falk believes that a ballot measure introduced in May by Supervisor Jane Kim, which called for 30% of new housing to be priced below market rate, has influenced San Francisco’s political dynamics around affordable housing. A 33% rate of affordable housing is now a political “safe harbor” for new development projects that are seeking exceptions from aspects of the Planning Code.

TNDC’s new projects will mean significant organizational growth over the next three years. About a year and a half go, TNDC began to focus on human capital development, which has included the creation of a Chief Talent Officer (CTO) staff position and starting a leadership development program. The CTO’s work will be crucial as TNDC works to grow its staff from 275 to 350-400 people.

Breakdown of TNDC’s annual budget

Philanthropically funded TNDC programs

The following programs are funded mainly by a combination of foundation and corporate grants (which often are restricted to specific programs) and about $1 million in unrestricted donations from individuals. Unrestricted donations also help cover some of TNDC’s administrative expenses.

Tenderloin After-School Program

The Tenderloin After-School Program (TASP) costs $600,000 - $700,000 a year. The program is open to children 7 to 18 years old. Mr. Falk believes that TNDC’s after-school programs have a significant positive impact on the life trajectories of the children involved.

Community Organizing Department programs

Community planning

TNDC takes an “equitable development” approach to community planning and land use policy. This means that rather than opposing development, TNDC seeks to minimize the negative consequences of development on — and to share its benefits with — low-income people. Its work in this area includes:

TNDC has created a Community Planner position to help with these activities.

For example, there is currently a proposal for a new 26-story building on Market St. (“950-974 Market”). TNDC wants to ensure that its design is sensitive, that negative impacts on the community are minimized, and that the community shares in the benefits resulting from the development. In particular, TNDC wants to make sure that the building has commercial services facing Turk St. as well as Market St.

Food justice

TNDC runs several programs focused on food justice and food security (e.g., Tenderloin People’s Garden, TNDC Roof Top Garden Project, and a food distribution partnership with the Heart of the City Farmer’s Market). These aim to provide Tenderloin residents with access to the same food options as residents of other neighborhoods. TNDC is also working to develop a grocery store or other food-security-related use on the ground floor of its Eddy/Taylor affordable housing project. Without a full-service grocery store, the Tenderloin is a “food swamp,” where the product selection is concentrated around sugar, starch, salt and alcohol.

Resident leadership programs

TNDC aims to foster leadership and encourage civic engagement among Tenderloin residents through programs such as:

These programs provide opportunities for Tenderloin residents to express their ideas and advocate for their own interests.

Potential uses for additional philanthropy

An increase in philanthropic funding could allow TNDC to:

Self-evaluation process

TNDC’s executive staff and department heads go through an extensive process to identify critical issues and decide how to address them in a measurable way.

Each of TNDC’s ten departments and its executive staff has a set of specific annual goals. TNDC produces a monthly scorecard for each department and its executive staff, showing success or failure on ten to twenty target measures. The monthly scorecard is not meant to be punitive; rather, it provides an opportunity for conversation about TNDC’s general performance and how to improve in areas where goals have not been met. The scorecards tie to departmental goals, which derive from the organization’s annual goals and ultimately from its strategic plan.

Goals for 2015

TNDC’s goals for 2015 include:

In the area of property management, TNDC has set goals for vacancy rates, building maintenance, and capital improvements, as well as targets for its revenue and bottom line.