July 16, 2010
San Francisco Housing Authority Presents Rent
"The San Francisco Housing Authority has failed to collect rent from more than a quarter of its households, in some cases for years, resulting in a $2.2 million deficit that the agency is now trying to reverse, Housing Authority documents show.
Facing federal pressure to undo years of mismanagement, the authority has been sending public housing tenants formal notices threatening eviction unless they pay thousands of dollars in back rent starting this month.
Now hundreds of the city's poorest residents fear they will become homeless, something officials say won't happen if tenants make a good-faith effort and agree to payment plans."
First Published: July 16, 2010 7:00 AM
Comments from "Plugged In" Readers
$156 for a 2-bedroom? Did I read that well? Did I wake up in 1973?
Posted by: lol at July 16, 2010 7:31 AM
I'm no more outraged about the residents of public housing not paying their rent than I am about wealthy San Franciscans strategically defaulting on their mortgages.
Assume that the 49 year-old administrative assistant mentioned in the piece really did owe the full outstanding balance of $2,500. How's that compare to even a few mortgage payments that four couples who own on Nob Hill in San Francisco have missed deliberately, or the four in the Marina neighborhood. Not performing according to a real estate contractual obligation is the same in pretty much either case, taxpayers in general ultimately pay the price, but in the case of public housing, there's no bank as a middleman siphoning off a cut.
Posted by: Brahma (incensed renter) at July 16, 2010 7:55 AM
When your rent is almost fully subsidized, this means other people have been paying most of your rent from day one. If you are intentionaly (no doubt this is not the norm) not paying your tiny share and expecting other people to pay 100% of your bill, you deserve to be kicked out as much as the defaulting millionaire.
Again, that's with the assumption that the default is voluntary and not because of life circumstances.
Posted by: lol at July 16, 2010 8:07 AM
The Chronicle should grab this story by the throat and dig deeper. Wasn't Care Not Cash created so that automatic deductions were made from public benefits to pay for housing?
How was someone allowed to rack up $28,000 in unpaid rent? That must be decades of not paying. Who is this person?
Posted by: bgelldawg at July 16, 2010 8:32 AM
^The smartest guy in the room.
Posted by: tipster at July 16, 2010 8:43 AM
^sounds like satchel, complimenting slimy moves..
Posted by: anonee at July 16, 2010 8:57 AM
Lets focus the outrage where it is deserved, at the SFHA. That level of incompetence is completely insane, the persons responsible for this should immediately be fired, and never allowed to work for the city again. They should also be required to return their salaries for the entire time this was going on, as they were clearly not doing their jobs.
Posted by: lyqwyd at July 16, 2010 10:11 AM
When confronted with their own gross incompetence, Government workers in this situation will always blame underfunding for the shortcomings. In short, they'll ask for more money. And they'll probably get it because our Governments has no guts. We'll be back to square one.
No accountability leads to abuse and incompetence
Posted by: lol at July 16, 2010 10:24 AM
Rents of $156 or a ridiculous minimum of $25 guarantee a system to fail, and by all right i think San Francisco and the federal government are tired of having to put resources into public housing anyway. As is there is clearly an effort underway to redevelop public housing and to make it part of mixed housing and to carefully craft a populace of BMR owners and select few public housing tenants.
Residents of public housing who dont pay rent have long known that notice is just a notice. A piece of paper to be thrown away and not to worry about unless the SFPD is involved. Otherwise residents know to simply issue a maintenance complaint, which are easy to find, due to the age of buildings, and poor original construction, and use that complaint as their offset against paying rent. Founded or not the maintenance backlog is so significant due to reduced federal funding for staff and repair that housing authority simply will let the months pass by.
I do believe in equal measure though that many of these residents who arent paying rent are actually falling into a crafted trap by housing authority and even the Mayor's Hope SF program. Much of the remaining public housing is due to be rebuilt, and turned into mixed income housing developments with Market, BMR, and public housing together (i.e.; Hunters View, Hunters Point, Potrero, Sunnydale). There are conditions though on returning residents that include residents be in good standing with rent among other conditions, letting non payment of rent go, and not having the revenue to maintain units (that they dont want to maintain in the first place), just makes it that much easier to control gentrification while able to select the populace you want, through a re-application process.
San Francisco and the federal governement simply dont seem to want to be in the public housing business as the system currently exists, seems to me they are speeding up their way out, and incompetence is paving the way along with a resident pool that thinks the system will always take care of them, which it mostly has to date.
Posted by: Rob at July 16, 2010 11:08 AM
How does this compare to walking away from a mortgage? Well, I'm not sure what connection there is at all, but here goes: no disabled, homeless person DESERVING of public subsidy is waiting to take the place of someone who cheats by not paying rent.
It has always seemed to me that if you need public housing, you relinquish some control over your life. That means you get help managing your finances. Fancy car lease? Sure, but go find another place to live. New furniture acquired through exploitative rent-to-own companies? No problem, just have 'em deliver it to your new place.
It's not harsh and judgmental. If you have enough money to throw away, OTHER PEOPLE need your place.
Posted by: BobN at July 16, 2010 11:08 AM
Well, OK, so the first paragraph is all messed up. Unneeded further proof that you shouldn't start a post, go get coffee, and come back and finish without editing.
Posted by: BobN at July 16, 2010 11:12 AM
I'll admit that wealthy strategic defaulters aren't "connected" in some way to public housing residents, but what I was trying to get at was that the people who have the ability to pay their mortgage and deliberately are not doing so, while choosing to stay in the house that the mortgage forms the security for, for free because they know it will take the bank several months if not years to actually foreclose, are not worthy of less opprobrium than the low-income people profiled in the SFGate.com story linked above.
And for every person currently living for free in a house that they've strategically defaulted on the mortgage for, there is at least one honest, hard-working, dutifully saving person DESERVING of a mortgage on a home they want to live in, waiting to take the place of someone who cheats by not paying their mortgage (and a GSE mortgage is a public subsidy, the difference is one of degree, not kind; if you're strategically defaulting on a mortgage owned by a portfolio lender that's a different kettle of fish).
That person who was been waiting patiently for prices to return to a sustainable level is being cheated by the delay of price discovery perpetuated by banks not foreclosing promptly on people who have defaulted. Fancy car lease? Sure, but go find another place to live where you can afford to actually pay rent and park the car at night.
It's not harsh and judgmental. If you have enough money to buy luxury items instead of paying your mortgage, OTHER PEOPLE need your place to go onto the market, and the sooner it does the better for actual price discovery.
Posted by: Brahma (incensed renter) at July 16, 2010 11:50 AM
"That person who was been waiting patiently for prices to return to a sustainable level is being cheated by the delay of price discovery perpetuated by banks not foreclosing promptly"
The problem with making this case is that the person can keep renting and saving while the property continues to depreciate.
You would expect that renters have to pay a 10% premium over owning in return for the added flexibility+mobility they enjoy. Since that is not the case in our current bizzaro world, it's like renters are having the cake and eating it too.
So don't feel too bad that they are getting cheated out of buying.
Posted by: J at July 16, 2010 12:31 PM
Brahma, biggest problem with your argument:
"are not worthy of less opprobrium than the low-income people profiled in the SFGate.com story linked above."
there was no opprobrium against renters at the point which you posted. even the sfgate article is more about how incompetent the SFHA is, not really that the renters are trying to take advantage.
Second, the owners who strategically default know there will be repercussions sooner or later, it's up to the bank to foreclose when somebody stops paying.
Lastly, nobody here (or pretty much anywhere) has suggested that owners should be allowed to stay as long as they want without paying their mortgage.
So lets get over this owner vs renter crap, which has absolutely nothing to do with this story.
Posted by: lyqwyd at July 16, 2010 2:01 PM
Care not Cash replaced Cash for Booze and Speedballs with arguably positive results.
Posted by: Mole Man at July 16, 2010 3:35 PM