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SF Housing Authority decides not to double rent on Section 8 households

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Federal department wants rent doubled on 182 households, but commission balks

Photo by Sundry Photography/Shutterstock

The San Francisco Housing Authority (SFHA) Commission decided against doubling the rent on some of San Francisco’s poorest families, despite pressure from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to bring in more money to cover budget shortfalls.

The proposal put before the seven-member Housing Authority Commission on Tuesday would have pushed the minimum rent imposed on households in the city’s Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program up to $50 in response to the SFHA’s financial woes:

In or around the time that the 2018 annual plan was submitted to HUD, the SFHA was designated in shortfall. As a result of the shortfall, it was recommended by the HUD shortfall team to increase its minimum rent from $25 to $50 in the Housing Choice Voucher Program.

The Authority is proposing following HUD’s recommendation to increase the minimum rent from $25 to $50. All participants affected would receive a 60 day rent increase notice prior to the increase taking effect. Notices will be provided and increases implemented at the time of each households recertification.

According to the proposal, “Currently there are approximately 757 households [in San Francisco] with the $25 minimum rent.”

However, the overwhelming majority of those households pay nothing each month, as they are considered “on hardship” and thus exempt.

In all, only 182 renters would have been subject to the rent hike, adding up to an additional $54,600 in annual SFHA revenue.

The relative paucity of that sum is one of the reasons why, according to the San Francisco Examiner, the commission decided unanimously Tuesday not to go ahead with the rent increase.

Although the $25 sum seems minor, “In some households that’s considered a deal breaker,” Commissioner Leroy Lindo declared before casting his vote against it.

SFHA discovered last year that due to apparent negligence it had spent itself nearly $30 million into the red.

The budget hole renewed longtime HUD demands that SFHA charge more for Section 8 housing in the city. But the commission has once again resisted federal pressure.

In 2018 SFHA received $10 million from HUD as part of a multi-source bailout program to cover for its losses.