Cash-poor San Francisco Housing Authority gets break from city bills 

click to enlarge The Housing Authority will have enough money to continue operating until August after deferring payment of bills to various city agencies. - CINDY CHEW/2007 S.F. EXAMINER FILE PHOTO
  • CINDY CHEW/2007 S.F. EXAMINER FILE PHOTO
  • The Housing Authority will have enough money to continue operating until August after deferring payment of bills to various city agencies.

It's not quite a bailout, but The City is doing what it can to give the federally funded Housing Authority financial relief.

Bills totaling $3.8 million sent to the public housing provider from the Police Department, Public Works Department and San Francisco Public Utilities Commission for extra officers and trash collection — and the electricity that keeps the lights on for more than 6,000 units of public housing — will not be paid this year in an effort to stave off bankruptcy.

The Housing Authority, which has a $210 million budget primarily funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, faced a $6.9 million deficit earlier this year, interim Executive Director Barbara Smith said last week. The agency was scheduled to run out of money in May but now has enough cash to continue operating until August, Smith said.

The perennially underfunded Housing Authority lost money due to the federal sequester earlier this year, but a history of financial mismanagement by the citizen commission "exacerbated" the situation, according to a recent audit.

The agency has not had a chief financial officer since 2009 and has had a history of overpaying for services due to poor review of contracts, the audit found. It pays about $490.10 to the Police Department per housing unit for security services; the national average is about $210, Smith said.

In addition to not paying bills to those city departments, the Housing Authority has laid off about 40 workers, cut back on private security services and trimmed its bills to trash collector Recology.

It's unclear if the bills to police, Public Works and the SFPUC will be entirely forgiven or if the Housing Authority will go on a payment plan.

The authority also is seeking to sell a building at 440 Turk St. in an effort to generate revenue.

About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts

Bio:
Chris Roberts has worked as a reporter in San Francisco since 2008, with an emphasis on city governance and politics, The City’s neighborhoods, race, poverty and the drug war.
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