"The Mission of the San Francisco Housing Authority is to deliver safe and decent housing for low-income households and integrate economic opportunity for residents."

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors established the San Francisco Housing Authority (SFHA) in 1938. The San Francisco Housing Authority is the oldest housing authority in California and the 17th largest in the country. Since its inception, the SFHA’s Conventional Public Housing Department has grown to include over 40 developments located throughout San Francisco. In 1974, the Housing Choice Voucher Program (formerly Section 8) was introduced to the SFHA. Over 10,000 individuals and families have been served through the Housing Choice Voucher Program. Today, the SFHA serves over 20,000 residents of San Francisco.

Overview of the San Francisco Housing Authority

Brief History of the Authority's Origin and Development

1937 – The United States Congress passed the United States Housing Act to provide decent housing for low-income families, as part of the “New Deal,” established by the Franklin Delano Roosevelt administration.
1938 – The San Francisco Board of Supervisors established the San Francisco Housing Authority (SFHA) in 1938. The SFHA is the oldest housing authority in California. Housing Authorities are unique entities established by a combination of federal, state, and local actions.
1940 – SFHA opened Holly Courts, the City’s first low-income housing development, for 118 families. This community was the first public housing development west of the Mississippi River. Potrero Terrace (469 units), Sunnydale (767 units), Valencia Gardens (246 units), and Westside Courts (136 units), followed closely and were completed by 1943. This building boom was part of the war effort to support the 35,000 service members, war workers, and their families who came to San Francisco to assist in winning World War II.
1940 to 1970 – The SFHA expanded significantly during this era due to an infusion of capital funds from HUD to build new residences and to make improvements such as replacing boilers and roofs, modernize and rehabilitate aging housing as well as to ensure accessibility for persons with disabilities.
1974 – The Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8) program was established to provide low-income families with subsidies to rent privately owned housing in the City.
1974 to 2014 – The SFHA grew to include 45 developments located throughout San Francisco’s various neighborhoods.
Today – There are approximately 3,200 local housing authorities across the nation, and the San Francisco Housing Authority is the 17th largest. The original 6,371 units of public housing built or acquired between 1940 and 1996 have gradually been redeveloped through the HOPE IV, HOPE SF, or RAD programs. In addition, the Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8) program oversees approximately 11,000 vouchers, including RAD Phase I and II project-based vouchers, special programs, other PBVs, and tenant-based vouchers.

Structure of the SFHA

  • While the Mayor appoints the seven members of the SFHA’s Board of Commissioners, the SFHA is an independent agency and a state chartered corporation. Two of the seven Commissioners must be SFHA residents to effectively represent the families, seniors, and disabled persons who are residents in housing developments.
  • The Board of Commissioners appoints an Executive Director to lead the SFHA workforce of more than 200 employees in various executive, administrative, and craft occupations.
  • Departments within the SFHA include the Office of the Executive, Public Housing Operations, the Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8), which includes Client Placement and the Customer Care Center), the Housing Development and Modernization Department, the Finance Department, the Governmental Affairs and Policies Department, the Human Resources Department, the Procurement Department, and the Information and Technology Department.

Main Sources of Funding for the SFHA

  • Much of the funding for Housing Authority programs is derived from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the rents paid by residents. Residents pay approximately 30% of their income for rent.