Re-Envisioning the San Francisco Housing Authority

SPUR Memorandum
June 24, 2013

The San Francisco Housing Authority (SFHA) is in crisis. The agency owns and manages 6,300 public housing units and administers roughly 9,000 Section 8 vouchers throughout San Francisco, representing a critical part of San Francisco’s affordable housing delivery system. However the SFHA suffers from a structural operating deficit. As a recent San Francisco legislative analyst and budget report notes, the agency had a budget short fall of $4 million in fiscal year 2011 and $2.6 million in 2012. Meanwhile, the agency does not have nearly enough funding to meet its capital needs. A recent SFHA presentation estimated the cost of current unfunded capital needs at more than $270 million and funding at only $10 million. The agency is expected to run out of cash at some point between May 2013 and July 2013.

Currently the City of San Francisco is seeking to provide housing and services for housing authority residents and voucher holders that is both high quality and financially sustainable. Without a major new strategy for managing SFHA resources, these goals will not be met, and the roughly 31,000 low-income residents served by the SFHA will suffer the consequences.

SPUR offers recommendations to help transform the SFHA so that high-quality affordable housing can be offered to public housing residents in a way that is financially sustainable over the long term.