(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Commission rejects doubling of rents for low-income families in federally-subsidized housing

The San Francisco Housing Authority Commission unanimously voted Tuesday to reject a proposal to double minimum rents to $50 for The City’s poorest families living in federally-subsidized housing.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has for years asked the agency to increase minimum rents to $50 per month from the current $25, but revisited the request due to the agency’s recent discovery of a $30 million shortfall, according to a Housing Authority official. HUD has agreed to help close the multi-million dollar funding gap and has asked the agency to do everything it can to look for additional revenue.

But concerns over the impacts on families who are living in the federal Section 8 housing were expressed by commissioners, even though they could apply for hardships to not have to pay the increase. Also, the proposal was opposed Bay Area Legal Aid, a group that provides legal assistance to low-income residents.

“We should be clear that we don’t view it, as a commission, as a sound approach related to residents,” said Joaquin Torres, president of the San Francisco Housing Authority Commission.

SEE RELATED: Rent could double for SF’s poorest families in federally-subsidized housing

Leroy Lindo, a Housing Authority Commissioner, said that “They need be aware that what we do as a commission and as an authority is always in the best interest of the clients. Even though it’s $25, in some households that’s considered a deal breaker, a hardship, a strain.”

Those who earn little to no income annually pay the minimum rents.

The agency said that 757 households have rents set at the $25 per month minimum, of which 574 are currently paying reduced rents after applying for hardships. That leaves 182 paying the $25 minimum rent.

The report noted that if the 182 households paid the increased rent amount it would total an additional $54,600 in rent annually paid to the agency, or $300 more from each household.

“An extra $25 for the 182 poorest families only adds up to $54,000 in additional funds for the entire year,” said Charlotte Vijftigschild, of Bay Area Legal Aid. She said the proposal ‘is like curing cancer with a cough drop and should therefore not be approved.”

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