City working to finalize Housing Authority takeover plans

Mayor London Breed submitted a draft agreement to the federal government Monday to take over San Francisco’s troubled public housing agency.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development required The City to submit a memoranda of understanding to take over San Francisco Housing Authority and correct a number of operational problems. Otherwise HUD was threatening to take over the agency itself.

The takeover threat came after HUD found improper management of the agency’s housing voucher and low rent public housing programs.

In an April 8 letter to HUD’s Dominique Blom, general deputy assistant secretary with the Office of Public and Indian Housing, Breed references a call where Blom told city staff that The City must “outsource financial and programmatic services” to third-party experts and not rely on existing San Francisco Housing Authority staff.

In a letter to San Francisco Housing Authority employees Tuesday, Breed said that Service Employees International Union 1021, which represent workers impacted by the take over, had asked if The City could retain the workers to run the two programs and still comply with HUD. The answer was no.

Also in that letter, it shows The City attempted to extend the April 8 deadline to submit the MOU. “HUD denied The City’s request for an extension of the April 8th deadline to submit the MOU,” Breed wrote in the letter.

She told the impacted workers that “our goal is to work with each and every one of you in the coming weeks to evaluate your available options and minimize your personal financial impacts.”

Under the draft MOU, The City will work more than 200 current employees and offer support including severance packages and possible employment elsewhere in city government.

The City will also create a new oversight organization for the housing authority.

“The City will appoint staff to perform executive managerial oversight of the Authority for all Essential Functions,” which includes hiring third-party experts, the letter states.

The draft MOU requires the creation of a timeline to transition to the new oversight model and to use “The City’s expertise in information technology, human resources, purchasing, real estate, legal advice, and financial systems and oversight.” It also requires approval by the Board of Supervisors and the San Francisco Housing Authority.

Breed reiterates in the letter that she is committed to working with HUD to finalize plans “for the City to assume responsibility for SFHA’s essential functions.”

“14,000 San Francisco households rely on SFHA housing subsidies. The maintenance of these subsidies and the conversion, rebuilding, and creation of new communities at the two remaining large public housing sites, Sunnydale and Potrero, as part of the City’s HOPE SF program, is critical to improving the quality of life for thousands of residents and families,” Breed wrote.

Breed said she hoped to receive approval from HUD to place Sunnydale and Potrero under non-profit “ownership and management.”

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