At Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, David Campos announced that he is asking the budget and legislative analyst to conduct a performance review of the San Francisco Housing Authority. He repeatedly stated (so you know it’s true) that “the focus is not on individuals or personalities” but “what is happening to address the needs of the residents.”
There’s no denying that the one individual personality drawing scrutiny to the agency right now is Executive Director Henry Alvarez. On Nov. 20-21, legal complaints were filed by employees — one current and one former — alleging discrimination. Note that legal complaints are a one-sided version of events and you can bet that the agency will deny anything underhanded took place.
The plaintiffs are Tim Larsen and Roger Crawford, both attorneys. Larsen, who is white, claims that Alvarez gave preferential treatment to a black co-worker. Who was the co-worker? None other than Crawford. According to Crawford’s lawsuit, he was terminated in retaliation for taking paternity leave. Apparently, no one is safe.
Larsen’s complaint contains other interesting tidbits. At Alvarez’s first staff meeting with the agency, he announced, “Let me be clear that I am 100 percent African-American.” And, “On one occasion, he even threatened to throw Mr. Larsen out the window.” Alvarez was allegedly concerned about whether his contract might be renewed and told Larsen, “When they push me out the door I am going to drag you with me!”
Although Larsen is still employed by the agency, he’s on leave right now, but Alvarez is clearly on the ropes. His contract is up in June and given the chorus of voices that confirm his adherence to a Genghis Khan leadership style, it may not be renewed.
If that happens, there may be an interim director for a time, but after Alvarez’s contract is up, the job will probably go to Bevan Dufty — the person agency employees turned to in May when they needed to get a message about Alvarez to the Mayor’s Office. Currently the mayor’s director of Housing Opportunity, Partnerships and Engagement, Dufty has a long history devoted to neighborhood services. He’d be the natural choice to head the department if Alvarez is pushed out the door.