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Thursday, February 17, 2011

S.F. Housing Authority Given Deadline to Improve Section 8 Housing

Posted By on Thu, Feb 17, 2011 at 3:10 PM

click to enlarge San Francisco's own money pit
  • San Francisco's own money pit

It has been well documented over the years that San Francisco's Housing Authority is in shambles; it can't collect rent on time, it can't keep records on file, and it hasn't been training its staff.

And while federal authorities -- every year -- issue  reports demanding the beleaguered agency pull it together, the average public housing tenant has seen no real change.

It's not just public housing; the city's Section 8 program has been long neglected, leading to a multiple agency review. Last year federal authorities released a scathing audit, detailing dwelling units that were missing doors, trashed with debris, and displaying electrical hazards.

In one review, which was conducted by the Office of Inspector General, 89 percent of section 8 houses that were inspected failed to meet federal standards because the housing authority wasn't holding landlords accountable for maintaining safe and clean living units.

SFHA was forced to pay a fine of $271,000 after that report came out.

That was in August, and now the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is telling the San Francisco Housing Authority that it has one year to reverse these serious problems -- or else.

Or else what?

"We would prefer not to speak to consequences until we give the agency an opportunity to respond to the measures," said Donna White, spokeswoman with HUD.

Housing Authority officials have not responded to SF Weekly's questions regarding the 1 year deadline.

Last year, San Francisco received $112 million from HUD for Section 8 vouchers. It also got $1.3 million to fund vouchers specifically to help homeless veterans.

The only real leverage HUD has to ensure that SFHA starts complying with federal laws is to withhold those funds until SFHA makes changes. But what good would that do? It would only mean one thing: The crappy conditions tenants are living in now would just get crappier.

"Is it worth it? I say 'No,'" said Sara Shortt, executive director with the San Francisco Housing Rights Committee. "You would think there are other ways of enforcing that doesn't mean a loss of housing."

You would think, but we have yet to see any.

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About The Author

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert has been Online News Editor for SF Weekly since 2010. She's a Texas native and has a closet full of cowboy boots to prove it.


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