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Richardson Apartments: A Fresh Take on Affordable Housing

by Min Li Chan

Nested within San Francisco's affluent Hayes Valley neighborhood, Richardson Apartments is an unconventional affordable housing initiative for the recently homeless. Riding the bus home last weekend, I caught a glimpse of the building's impressive facade a few intersections away, hopped off the bus and ventured closer to take a look.

The building has a striking design that fits right in with the boutiques, restaurants, luxury apartments, symphony and opera house nearby.

It is also home to 120 formerly homeless individuals. It is named after Drs. Julian and Raye Richardson, founders of Marcus Books, the oldest African-American bookstore in the country.

Upon entering the building, a superintendent graciously answered my questions and pointed out a bright courtyard with a mural along the wall.

Just around the corner, the building houses a cooperative bakery and cafe that provides training and employment for building residents.

The places where we spend much of our lives can affect our outlook, sense of dignity and self-worth. In this sense, the Richardson successfully combines bold design with an integrated approach to affordable — and livable — housing.

This is part of a collection of featured places from around the world. If you’d like to share photos of a place you find interesting, please add them to the Flickr group or send them to info@thepolisblog.org and we’ll publish your feature. Video and sound recordings are also welcome.

Credits: Photos by Min Li Chan.

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