An affordable housing nonprofit ironically called HumanGood has announced 182% rent increases for some tenants thanks to a HUD loophole, but Supervisor Dean Preston has introduced an ordinance to prevent this.
Above we see the Frederick Douglas Haynes housing complex on Golden Gate Avenue in the Fillmore District, an affordable housing complex where many tenants recently moved back in after an eight-month renovation. It sounds great that their units have been refurbished with new stoves, refrigerators, and other appliances. But as the Chronicle reported nearly two weeks ago, some of those tenants found something else was being refurbished with a pretty devastating effect — their rent, with a 182% rent increase being phased in over the next five years.
“Patricia and Leroy Beasley, who live in the apartments with their daughter and grandson, have seen their post-construction rent jump 36%, from $1,408 to $1,921 a month,” the Chronicle reported at the time. “And that’s just the beginning: the family has been notified it will see $513 annual increases for five years — a total of $2,565 — bringing their rent for the three-bedroom place to $3,973 a month by 2026.”
Today, we announced legislation to protect FD Haynes residents and others formerly protected by rent control from facing huge rent increases. https://t.co/pQqBmE9pdv— Dean Preston (@DeanPreston) March 2, 2022
Their district’s supervisor Dean Preston wants to put a halt to this seemingly predatory practice in the charitable-sounding industries of affordable housing nonprofits and federal low-income housing programs. The Chronicle reports Preston introduced an ordinance Tuesday to limit rent increases in government-subsidized housing to prevent these and other rent increased from being this drastic.
“In a city with a $13 billion budget, in the midst of having necessary conversations about reparations to the Black community, it is unconscionable that the city wants to pay the bill for long-overdue repairs in subsidized housing by imposing rent hikes on long-term African-American residents,” Preston said Tuesday. “We can, and we must, do better.”
The 182% rent increase does not apply to every unit at Frederick Douglas Haynes housing complex, but about a fifth of the complex has learned the hard way that rent control no longer applies to them. Since the property recently underwent renovations paid for with federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, property owner HumanGood (yes that is their name) argues that makes them federally funded and therefore not constrained to rent control for any units that are not paid for with Section 8 vouchers.
When the Chronicle reached HumanGood, a spokesperson provided a rather opaque response that the nonprofit was “proud of our renovated Frederick Douglas Haynes community in San Francisco, which serves low-income seniors and families in the heart of San Francisco’s Fillmore District,” and that “We completed construction of the project in January 2022, and all residents have returned to their homes in the renovated community.”
If enacted, Preston’s policy might be legally at odds with Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) policy, so it could end up in the courts. HumanGood seems to be playing it off as if their hands are tied, and they have no choice but to implement these massive rent increases because it’s HUD policy. And HumanGood may already have attorneys working on that argument, but for an affordable housing nonprofit, it sure comes off like HumanGood is treating humans as goods.
Image: Google Street View