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Residents with overdue rent bills facing eviction

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Some families living in San Francisco’s public housing apartments are receiving eviction notices just weeks before Christmas.

In September, the San Francisco Housing Authority put a freeze on evictions to give tenants with a backlog of rent the chance to start a payment plan or contest the bills. The goal was to put the financially unstable Housing Authority back on track with rent collection without evicting tenants.

But that grace period has come to a screeching halt as housing officials started sending out 14-day eviction notices in the past few weeks. Rose Dennis, a spokeswoman for the Housing Authority, could not confirm how many tenants had signed up for payment plans or how many had received eviction notices.  

She also did not confirm whether any residents have been evicted.

But Sara Shortt, executive director of the Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco, estimated — based on anecdotal evidence — that some 120 tenants have already received eviction notices.  

“We have a huge problem on our hands if 120 households are going to be evicted at once,” Shortt said. “Those are families, so if you multiply it we have a situation where more than 1,000 of the poorest residents are out on the street at once on the holidays.”

Dennis disputed that notion, saying any tenant who receives an eviction notice has 14 days to work with the Housing Authority to come up with a payment plan that will ensure their residency.

“It would be irresponsible for anyone to speculate that the agenda is to boot people out on the street during the holiday season — that’s not the point of this endeavor,” Dennis said. “We have an obligation to collect rent.”

The Housing Authority failed to collect more than $2.2 million in rent last fiscal year from approximately 1,400 of its 6,500 rental units in The City. Some tenants were overcharged while others skipped out on rent payments, creating a giant backlog of uncollected rent.

Trying to resolve the problem, housing officials previously halted evictions and asked tenants to manage any outstanding rent through a payment plan not exceeding 7.5 percent of the household’s income.

esherbert@sfexaminer.com

Missing payments


6,500 Public housing tenants in The City
1,400 Tenants who owe a backlog of rent
$2M-plus Total rent owed to Housing Authority since last year
700 Eviction notices sent as of September

Source: San Francisco Housing Authority