Housing preference programs give target groups priority access to affordable housing programs.


The goal of a local preference program is to ensure that certain disadvantaged and/or displaced groups have access to affordable programs. If an individual meets the criteria of a preference program they can obtain priority access to City sponsored affordable housing programs and opportunities, including down payment assistance programs.

Some affordable housing programs use state and federal funds, which may limit the use of local preference programs. As a result, cities must obtain special permission from the funding agency to implement the local preference program.

There are two active preference programs in San Francisco.

Certificate of Preference Program

The Certificate of Preference Program (COP) is available to residents displaced by the former San Francisco Redevelopment Agency in the 1960’s and 1970’s when the Agency was implementing its federally-funded urban renewal program. The preferential considerations are given for all City and Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure (OCII) sponsored housing projects.

Ellis Act Housing Preference Program

The 1986 Ellis Act is a California State law that allows property owners to evict tenants in order to exit the rental business. The Ellis Act Housing Preference (EAHP), launched in April 2014, gives preference in affordable housing programs administered or funded by the City and OCII for eligible tenants who are evicted under the Ellis Act. Eligibility depends on criteria such as length of stay, date when the eviction notice is received, and the health condition of the tenant.



Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development (MOHCD) | MOHCD manages the Certificate of Preference (COP) program and the application process for the Ellis Act Housing Preference (EAHP) Certificate.