Public housing residents: Crime is a way of life 

Public housing residents say security has gotten so bad that drug selling and robberies have become a way of life just outside their apartment doors.

Security had to be cut back at a number of public housing sites because the San Francisco Housing Authority’s operating budget has been underfunded by the federal government in recent years, according to the Housing Authority’s executive director, Greg Fortner. This year, the amount of the shortfall was $5.1 million, Fortner said.

'They’re just robbing people at their doors'

The impacts of the reductions were made clear as residents spoke of the lack of security around their homes during a Wednesday public hearing called by Supervisor Chris Daly after he learned of their concerns.

Alvernita Washington, who has lived at the South of Market public housing project Clementina Towers for the last nine years, said, "There are a lot of robberies. They’re just robbing people at their doors." She also said people are scaling the building via the balconies.

In the last two years, the Housing Authority, which operates more than 50 developments containing about 6,400 housing units, has spent $2.4 million each year on security. In 2001, the authority spent $4.9 million on security, officials said.

At some housing sites, the authority has implemented a roving patrol, doing away with the more expensive 24-hour weekly on-site security guards.

Daly requested that Fortner draft a report on the cost of having security guards on-site at the public housing sites in hopes of finding funding for better security.

'Local government needs to take control'

"If the feds want to pull out in supporting public housing, then the local government needs to take significant control of the future of the public housing in San Francisco," Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi said.

The hearing came a day after Mayor Gavin Newsom announced increased walking police patrols to include eight federally funded Housing Authority sites at no cost to the agency.

jsabatini@examiner.com

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