Public Housing Waitlist Reopens to Homeless Applicants After Four Year Closure

San Francisco’s public housing waitlist will reopen briefly in mid-January after more than four years of being closed to the city’s homeless residents in need of a place to live.

The reopening of the San Francisco Housing Authority’s waitlist was announced today and is the result of $2 million in funding from the Office of San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and $600,000 in funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, according to San Francisco Housing Authority’s deputy executive director and chief operating officer, Velma Navarro.

The $2.6 million in funding will allow the Housing Authority to renovate as many as 200 units in the Sunnydale, the Potrero Annex and the Potrero Terrace public housing complexes in 2015, Navarro said.

The brief reopening of the waitlist will last for a period of five days from Jan. 13 to Jan. 18, 2015, and will allow homeless San Franciscans a chance to place their names on the public housing waitlist.

But shelter could still be a long way off for many due to high demand for public housing in the city.

According to the 2013 Homeless Count, 6,436 people were identified as homeless in San Francisco, with more than half of those people living on city streets, according to the Human Services Agency of San Francisco.

With roughly 3,400 individuals living on the city’s streets and only about 1,200 shelter beds, around 2,200 people are left without shelter each night in San Francisco, according to the Homeless Count.

The Housing Authority’s waitlist for public housing closed to new applicants in 2010 due to unmanageable demand, Navarro said.

She said the Housing Authority’s waiting list is now down to about 1,100 after it underwent a purge of anyone who did not respond to the Housing Authority’s inquiries, reducing the number of people on the waitlist from 33,000, Navarro said.

However, anyone who comes forward can claim their initial spot on the list at any time.

Navarro said the Housing Authority is reopening the waitlist to increase the pool of applicants as new units open up. She said she expected a couple thousand people to place their name on the waitlist during the five-day period.

She said that as units at the public housing complexes get refurbished, residents who were formerly in permanent supportive housing programs will be able to move in, freeing up permanent supportive housing units for homeless persons without shelter who are on the waitlist.

Navarro said some of the major issues at the public housing complex units are plumbing, heating, damaged walls and a lack of working appliances.

The applications for the waitlist will be accepted online only, and homeless residents will be able to access the application via the Internet, which is available at public libraries and at sites sponsored by partners of the San Francisco Housing Authority.

Staff will be on hand to assist applicants during the online application process, according to Navarro.

After the five-day window of accepting waitlist applications, homeless individuals will be able to get on the waitlist via an ongoing referral from the Human Services Agency of San Francisco.

Once applicants are on the waitlist, but before given shelter, the Housing Authority will verify that the family or individual is not living in a permanent residence or in a shelter.

The application is available at: and will go live on Jan. 13, 2015.

Hannah Albarazi, Bay City News

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