New scrutiny is urged for San Francisco Housing Authority Commission

The government commission overseeing public housing in San Francisco could soon face increased accountability.

As public-housing projects undergo renovation, tenants complain about living conditions, and finer points of operating The City’s 6,000 units of low-income public housing are debated, the San Francisco Housing Authority Commission escapes the public scrutiny experienced by other city commissions because its meetings are held outside of City Hall and aren’t broadcast live.

But that could soon change.

Supervisor Christina Olague is pushing to have the commission start meeting at City Hall, around noontime, with meetings to be broadcast and archived by the government’s SFGovTV television channel.

“The reasoning behind this important move is that many of the authority’s clients feel disempowered and disconnected from policy-level decisions,” Olague said. About 30,000 San Francisco residents live in public housing.

A resolution backing the proposal is being voted on today by the Government Audits and Oversight Committee of the Board of Supervisors. If ultimately approved by the full board, the resolution would not be binding, but it would send a strong message to the Housing Authority, whose commission would have to vote to relocate and also to use its agency funds to pay for broadcasting.

The expected cost of broadcasting commission meetings would be about $30,000 annually.

Olague also believes that relocation to City Hall would lend a more professional setting for the meetings and encourage more people to attend, one of her aides said.

The seven-member commission, all appointed by the mayor, currently meets at 440 Turk St., and recordings of its meetings are not available online.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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