Families in public housing face streets for late rent

Financial move-in requirements for public housing that is slated to be rebuilt in Bayview-Hunters Point threatens to put hundreds of low-income families out on the streets, according to city officials.

Two hundred and ninety-five households, or 74 percent, of the 398 occupied units in Hunters View and Alice Griffith public housing face eviction, according to city documents.

Hunters View is the first federal Housing Authority site to be rebuilt within mixed-income housing, under a program championed by Mayor Gavin Newsom called Hope SF.

Because of past-due rents, those currently facing eviction might not be eligible for relocation when the housing projects are redeveloped, according to Housing Authority documents.

San Francisco Housing Authority practices under a previous administration contributed to the large percentage of public-housing tenants facing eviction, according to a Feb. 26 agency memo.

Residents received 14-day “pay or quit” notices that went unenforced by the Housing Authority. There were mismanaged tenant files leading to inaccurate rents and a malfunctioning income verification system increased what residents owed. Additionally, officials said, some residents stopped paying rent, citing a lack of maintenance at the developments.

To encourage tenants to pay back due rent, the Housing Authority has launched a pilot program at the Hunters View development, which currently has 157 occupied units, 116 of which are at-risk for eviction.

“We do not want to create any more homelessness,” interim San Francisco Housing Authority Director Mirian Saez said. “This is not what the Housing Authority should be doing.”

Officials with the nonprofit Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now said the Housing Authority should place a moratorium on evictions.

“Every time I go to work I pray to God that I don’t see an [eviction notice] on my door when I come home,” said Fala Satele, 45, who lives in Alice Griffith.

Satele, who works for a rental car company, said property management has tried to charge her for other families’ maintenance and when she does not pay, threatens eviction.

If tenants are not in good standing with rent, they cannot be relocated, according to city official Kimberly Wicoff, who said the rebuilt housing will be managed by the developer, the John Stewart Co.

“We know they’ll collect on time and move faster [on eviction notices],” she said.

Under the pilot program announced by Newsom on Wednesday, a $150 gift card is being offered as an incentive to get tenants to pay rent on time. Some residents could be eligible for debt relief.

Mayor spokesman Nathan Ballard said the new program was created to prevent the threat of families being forced out of their public housing.

“This program will provide additional protection to those who are relocated when we undertake the HOPE SF program.”

dsmith@examiner.com

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