UC Law Journal of Race and Economic Justice


Nicole Schmidt


This note examines the spirit and letter of statutes aimed at improving the state of public housing in America, focusing on the realities of the San Francisco Housing Authority's jurisdiction. The Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act of 1998 devolved responsibility for public housing administration to local housing authorities and in turn required that each jurisdiction submit an Annual Plan detailing all aspects of the local housing programs. In addition, the Act required that Resident Advisory Boards be established to gather information and concerns from tenants and present them to local authorities for consideration and comment. The vague language of the Act, including that resident advisory boards be given "reasonable accommodations," has allowed local housing authorities, and the San Francisco Housing Authority in particular, to often bypass the spirit of the law in favor of more efficient and cost effective methods which ultimately serve to deprive tenants of the chance at meaningful participation. Primarily based on practical interactions with local public housing tenants, the note outlines the main problems with San Francisco's public housing as well as the primary obstacles tenants face in dealing with housing concerns. The note argues that administration of a successful public housing program must necessarily include a truly independent Resident Advisory Board with the resources and capacity to gather information and ideas from a wide variety of residents coupled with a receptive and responsive housing authority.

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