If you start at the Bayview District’s Third Street and follow the gentle slope up Newcomb Avenue, you’ll wind up on what residents colloquially call “The Hill.”

Up on The Hill are four subsidized, garden-style apartment complexes comprising some 600 units. In them live families, seniors, and kids who light fireworks and draw with chalk on the sidewalk. There are also dozens of long-term tenants who view their homes as battlegrounds where they fight off rats, gnats, and mold.  

Mission Local spent the summer knocking on doors, interviewing dozens of residents, entering their homes, and reviewing documents and pictures of habitability issues. In many cases, the conditions of apartments on The Hill are making tenants sick. Most often, tenants become sick because the property manager and owner, Related Affordable and Related Management, fail to abate the issues when they first arise. 

Tenants who alerted management and submitted work orders often wait weeks or even months before a problem is resolved, if it gets fixed at all. Many tenants allege that, once they reported an issue, management retaliated with eviction threats or verbal intimidation. Some tenants became so frustrated with the delays, rat infestations and leaks, that they gave up their subsidies and moved out.

When frustrated by management’s lack of response, tenants can complain to the city. In total, tenants on The Hill have filed 155 housing complaints since Related Management took over the properties in 2018. More than half were cited by an inspector in a report, and involved issues like leaking pipes, lack of heat, and persistent rodent infestations. As the wait for fixes extends, so do tenants’ exposures to these risks.

Though most city complaints are now reported “closed” on the Department of Building Inspection database, it’s not always an indication the issue was completely corrected; sometimes, for example, a case is closed when it is referred to another department for enforcement. Still, city data underscores how deferred maintenance at these properties can stretch on for months. One case escalated to an Order of Abatement, the highest penalty the city can impose before a case reaches the City Attorney’s office.

Related Management declined an interview, but acknowledged some issues and reiterated that most complaints filed to the city have been closed. Tenants believe this corroborates their assumption that Related suddenly jumps up to repair issues only when the city gets involved.

“We are aware that several Notices of Violations have been issued as a result of some residents contacting the City for routine maintenance issues. These notices are being addressed as they are received, and most of them have been closed,” read an emailed statement from Related’s senior vice president of affordable housing, Lori Horn. 

Horn and other staff have become more involved in the last year, attempting to listen and address tenant issues, showing up at town halls online and in person. Tenants appreciate the new effort, but report mixed results on the impact. 

These are snapshots of what it is like to live on The Hill.

For tenants who asked that their names not be used for fear of retaliation, we have referred to them by numbers, as in Tenant #1, Tenant #2. Throughout the piece, roll over words highlighted in pink to see potential health impacts.

Bayview Apartments

5 Commer Court | 146 apartments

La Salle Apartments

30 Whitfield Court | 145 apartments

Shoreview Apartments

35 Lillian Street | 156 apartments

All Hallows Apartments

65 Navy Road | 157 apartments

The story is part of a series reported with support from USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism’s 2022 California Fellowship program, with engagement support from the center’s interim engagement editor, Monica Vaughan. Design by Will Jarrett.

Follow Us

REPORTER. Annika Hom is our inequality reporter through our partnership with Report for America. Annika was born and raised in the Bay Area. She previously interned at SF Weekly and the Boston Globe where she focused on local news and immigration. She is a proud Chinese and Filipina American. She has a twin brother that (contrary to soap opera tropes) is not evil.

Follow her on Twitter at @AnnikaHom.

Join the Conversation


Please keep your comments short and civil. Do not leave multiple comments under multiple names on one article. We will zap comments that fail to adhere to these short and very easy-to-follow rules.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. It seems Related Management is doing this all over the country to low- and fixed-income residents. I live in one of their Connecticut subsidized properties currently dealing with vicious mold, leaks, poor water pressure, no heat, rodents and failing structures. There are safety hazards throughout the complex, both inside and outside. Related seems to think we don’t deserve safe living spaces. They seem to think we won’t speak out for fear of retaliation. I’m speaking out. We are speaking out and fighting for our families and all the families that will follow!

  2. My daughter and I live in a Related property in Connecticut. I just don’t understand how Related is even allowed to have a real estate license. Why is HUD even willing to even still do business with them?
    This is so truly frustrating. This agency is so evil.

    I love the layout of this report!

    See link for an article our family and others were just featured in. I wish this could be investigated by something like the CBS evening news.


  3. Outstanding reporting. Thank you, Mission Local. A couple of notes:

    Mission statement from Related Companies’ website: “We are dedicated to creating memorable experiences, supporting our neighbors and giving back for a better tomorrow.” Oh, the irony. And equally nauseating is this nugget from Related Chairman and Founder Stephen Ross’ bio: “Mr. Ross has always sought opportunities to give back in meaningful ways. His philanthropic efforts have broadly focused on the areas of education, the arts, racial equality, healthcare and the creation of more sustainable cities throughout the world.” Oh, and he’s also the owner of the Miami Dolphins NFL team.

    Perhaps Mr. Ross should consider dipping into his slushy funds to ensure that tenants in his properties on The Hill have safe, reliably habitable housing.


  4. Shamann Walton, do you copy? San Francisco pushes and pushes for more subsidized housing, then contracts it out to “nonprofits” or other entities that allow these conditions to persist. Help these people!

    1. Your criticism of non-profits is WRONG. This is not a non profit company they are counting on to repair the homes of our poorest folks.

      1. Related is a for profit company at the end of the day, but a cursory search indicates buildings must be owned or operated by a public or nonprofit entity in order to get those RAD dollars (rule #4, see link).

        It’d be interesting to figure out Related’s revenue and profit structure through the RAD program. A whole ‘nother thing to figure out, but I bet it’s not as complicated as it might seem.


        Only 28 transactions and partnerships to figure out, Ms. Hom. Did you take any investment banking courses?


  5. Thank you for all the work you’ve done. In am a landlord,and it makes me sick to read about these sorts of irresponsible owners, who abuse their tenants and give the rest of us a bad name.

  6. Thank you for reporting on this. The Bayview has been neglected. I used to live up there off La Salle. Not in Related’s development, but next to it. The place I lived in was not well built, but it was not much different from new tracts we looked at in other cities. Low quality seemed to be the home builder’s formula for low end housing. It was up to us to fix trim, boards and nails that kept popping out. Several of us had front doors that faced the near-constant wind. That side of the house wore out faster than the back. Worse than the condition of houses was seeing young people hanging around looking bored. The new city college being built nearby could invigorate the neighborhood–a big plus.

  7. Well done article, Annika. I appreciate the amount of work that must’ve gone into this reporting.

    Some of the large real estate speculators operating in San Francisco are methodically and systematically managing their properties very similarly. This is another area where The City’s leaders know about it but mainly choose to look the other way, presumably because the real estate industry funds so many political campaigns. But it’s very unsafe and stressful for tenants to live like this for years. And a lot of these practices are illegal under existing laws. Serious enforcement is lacking, and most readers here are well aware of the corruption at DBI and throughout the larger city family.

    1. individually seeing each inspector is an option. I called dbi and demand the information not visual on the dbi website. they are withholding information!!! because they are too lazy to write the reports. the only way to get it done is pay yourself or sue for each instance. I investigated my landlord thru cluster maps found all his addresses and then looked up in dbi. multiple violations. The city of sf even had a review board fallow the dbi THE REAL PROBLEM IS THE DBI WEBSITE and CITY attorney who is not prosecuting these landlords are all the same multi abusers. senior housing inspector was responsible for Claudia Stevens death via no freezer or a/c 90 degree weather with health condition this is human rights and you need to file with the https://sf.gov/file-discrimination-complaint NEVER GIVE UP they are just figuring out who is responsible lets fight …the 3rd street separation of the city planning brought in federal dollars and they are fraudulently funding the school in cow palace ect with that money…so much fraud thur the banks Wells Fargo is number one so call up and get the class action lawsuit filed! their lawyers evicted me at 650 north mission bay blvd after they stole from my apt and took the dbi inspector to lunch all on video TNDC CRIMINALS hire criminals they put in prison gal stole Claudias credit card after death…blamed me for dishwasher not working its harassment because they are uneducated to do their job!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! the contractors are hiring unexperience workers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! therefore they cannot fix anything folks this is the reason you cannot get it fixed!~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

  8. Dear Annika,
    I have to give you props for using the proper term for taxpayer supported housing, “subsidized” …rather than the more common and misleading “affordable” label. Thanks for your refreshing and rare integrity.