Public housing provides rent-restricted housing to low-income families, the elderly, and people with disabilities...


Public housing offers affordable rental units to low to extremely low-income households. Unlike most housing in the City, public housing is developed and managed by the government versus private landlords.

The San Francisco Housing Authority (SFHA) manages public housing units in San Francisco. SFHA began operations in 1938 as part of a national effort to alleviate the country’s Depression-era housing crisis. Today (2014), it owns and manages over 5,000 units of public housing. To qualify for public housing, tenants’ incomes must not exceed certain levels (view the income levels in San Francisco at SFHA’s website). In 2014, the public housing wait list was over 7,500 households long.

Funding for SFHA operations comes strictly from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and tenant-paid rents. HUD-provided assistance has not kept pace with either operating expenses or building maintenance needs since the 1980s.

HOPE SF - Rehabilitation of Public Housing

In the early 1990s a national report drew attention to the need to rehabilitate distressed public housing across the United States. Congress created a program called HOPE VI, managed by HUD, that provided funding to rehabilitate public housing. Read more about HOPE VI.

Over time, however, funding from HOPE VI decreased. Faced with decreasing federal dollars and distressed public housing properties, San Francisco created a program to rebuild four of the most distressed public housing properties. This program is called HOPE SF and it is in progress. You can read more at HOPE SF’s website.

HOPE SF seeks to create transformative neighborhood change, replacing each public housing unit with a new, quality home within expanded mixed-income, mixed-use communities. HOPE SF also includes comprehensive social supports to help residents improve their access to education, health and economic opportunities.

Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) – Converting Public Housing to Private Ownership

In 2012, HUD created the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program to address the continued funding shortage for public housing across the nation. RAD targets the rest of SFHA’s portfolio, consisting of approximately 4,000 units, which is also in need of capital investments to address long-deferred maintenance needs. Through RAD, public housing authorities transfer their units to private entities that can then access low-income housing tax credit equity and debt.

San Francisco’s RAD program involves eight community-led development teams. By the end of 2016, the teams will take ownership of the units, rehabilitate them, bring new services to residents, while preserving resident rights, and then manage the units over the long-term.


No data to report yet. Data is still being discovered for this policy. Read more about our process of continuous improvement.


US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) | HUD provides funding and financing for public housing management, development, and rehabilitation. San Francisco Housing Authority (SFHA) | SFHA is the local housing authority that manages the 40 public housing developments in San Francisco. Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development (MOHCD) | MOHCD works with SFHA to plan and coordinate the HOPE SF project.