SF Seeks Public-Private Approach to Public Housing

SF Seeks Public-Private Approach to Public Housing


San Francisco’s experience with traditional public housing might be coming to an end, replaced by a privately funded model that other cities could follow. The San Francisco Housing Authority has dealt with underfunding and, according to Mayor Ed Lee, it has a permanently dilapidated housing stock that “does not work for getting people out of poverty.”

“There’s a better model, and the model is right here in San Francisco,” he added in his state of the city address. Some of the city’s most “distressed” public housing projects have been rebuilt by private developers, who now also manage those properties.

He mentioned two developments that were rebuilt under a Clinton administration program called HOPE VI. Though that program has long since ended, more public housing in Hunters Point is being rebuilt under a similar model by developer The John Stewart Co. City and federal money is combined with private investment to pay for new construction, which is then managed by the private company. The program is called Hope SF, and it’s a model Lee wants to use for all local public housing.

The city’s public housing could hardly be in worse shape. Bad management and finances have landed the authority on federal inspectors’ “troubled” list. And management of Section 8 housing also has earned the lowest marks possible.


Not a subscriber? Click here for a free trial issue!