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Telling the Truth about San Francisco’s Public Housing

Randy Shawbyline‚ Jan. 17‚ 2013

If all you knew about San Francisco’s public housing came from recent media stories, you would think Housing Authority Director Henry Alvarez is the cause of the problems. But while Alvarez must be removed, he is just the latest in a long line of Directors whose failures are less personal than systemic. The Housing Authority is in crisis because it is $260 million underfunded in its capital budget, and the federal government pays it less than 50% per unit than it pays landlords renting under the Section 8 program. We have problematic Housing Authority chiefs across the nation because quality managers will not take a job where they know they cannot succeed. And if anyone thinks that the SF Chronicle’s extensive coverage of Alvarez has anything to do with their concern about low-income tenants or improving the future of public housing, I have a bridge to sell you.