Did SFHA ever get approval from HUD to get rid of the last public housing in the City?

On November 26, 2021, the UFAD sent this statement to the media and various agencies, including San Francisco Housing Authority (SFHA) and the Office of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Nearly 90 tenants from Sunnydale and Potrero Hill signed onto this demand which clearly stated their opposition to the HOPE SF privatization scheme.

Two weeks later, HUD responded to that letter by stating “The Department [of Housing and Urban Development] has determined SFHA is in compliance of all communication, relocation and re-housing requirements,” despite the huge amount of evidence that had been submitted demonstrating that SFHA has not adequately communicated with residents about this plan. SFHA also hasn’t listened to any opposition although residents have consistently voiced their opposition to the plan which will push all tenants at Sunnydale and Potrero Hill out of their current units over the next several years.

A member of the UFAD submitted a California Public Records Act (CPRA) request to the Housing Authority requesting a copy of the application that, per federal policy (specifically, Section 18 of the Housing Act of 1937 and 24 CFR part 970), must be submitted and approved by HUD in order to carry through with such a plan. This document would in principle show the basis on which HUD had “determined SFHA is in compliance” with regards to the current privatization. The initial CPRA request was submitted on November 18th.

This member contacted SFHA no fewer than 5 times over the course of the next two months for updates on the status of the request, which, per California state law, should take no more than 24 business days to be fulfilled. Finally, on January 10th 2022, a legal clerk for the Housing Authority responded via email:

“Thank you for your request. The Authority has conducted a thorough review of your request in which many employees who worked on this are no longer with the Authority. There is no application that is responsive to your request. The attached document provides a response that meets your request. The Authority will now consider this request closed.”

The document referenced in the email contained a letter from SFHA’s office to the HUD Special Applications Center, wherein the alleged Section 18 application was referenced indirectly, but not displayed. So basically, Housing is saying they can’t even provide the application for the project.

We’ve provided our evidence of the lack of communication and transparency. It seems like Housing is unable to defend their claims of compliance.

We shouldn’t be surprised by this level of ineptitude, but it does raise some questions as to the legal integrity of this process, including but not limited to:

  1. Is the San Francisco Housing Authority so poorly managed that they do not keep a record of consequential documents affecting the lives of thousands of tenants in San Francisco? Or do they have a motivation in withholding such information from the public eye?
  1. Did SFHA, per 24 CFR 970.9(a), “provide with its application evidence that the application was developed in consultation with residents who will be affected by the proposed action, any resident organizations for the development, PHA-wide resident organizations that will be affected by the demolition or disposition, and the Resident Advisory Board (RAB)” ? Given most residents have been left totally uninformed about the current accelerated disposition process occurring right now at both public housing locations in San Francisco, the burden of proof remains on the shoulders of the Housing Authority.
  1. What evidence did SFHA provide to HUD to demonstrate that units will be brought up to basic housing quality standards before being handed off to private management, per 24 CFR 970.21(a) ?

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