The SFHA's old office at the Potrero Terrace-Annex public housing. Taken May 5, 2023. Photo by Christina MacIntosh.
The SFHA's old office at the Potrero Terrace-Annex. Taken May 5, 2023. Photo by Christina MacIntosh.

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Supervisor Shamann Walton Thursday ripped into the property manager overseeing troubled Potrero Hill and Sunnydale public housing, criticizing its explanations for mismanaged properties. 

At a meeting Thursday, the Board of Supervisors Government Audit and Oversight Committee grilled management corporation Eugene Burger for recent incidents, such as squatters living in vacant units, mounting trash, deferred work orders and poor habitability scores, and a lethal fire

But Walton was unsatisfied with the majority of management’s answers. 

“Now I understand where the problem lies,” Walton said, feigning sudden enlightenment. “We think quality of service for residents is different than what Eugene Burger thinks” it is, he said. 

“Everybody who is in the development working on properties, developer, contractor, Housing Authority, HOPE SF — you are all responsible for meeting residents’ needs, point blank,” Walton said sternly. 

Current conditions, work-order resolutions

The hearing came on the heels of a series of Mission Local articles that revealed a litany of resident complaints and shoddy conditions at the public housing complexes. Both developers are tasked with razing the Potrero and Sunnydale projects and replacing them with mixed-income developments, part of the city’s HOPE SF reconstruction of four public housing projects in southeast San Francisco.

Mercy Housing, the Sunnydale project’s developer, said it spends $400,000 to $700,000 of its own money per year and is building a community center on-site, to which it contributed $7 million. Potrero Hill’s developer BRIDGE Housing did not have a dollar figure for its contribution. 

Supervisor Walton, who represents  District 10 where the public housing properties are located, asked for an update on the sites’ “scorecard,” a metric of its quality first published by Mission Local. The previous scorecard, released in May, showed Eugene Burger’s site failed four out of five scorecard criteria.

Conditions improved, according to San Francisco Housing Authority chief executive officer Tonia Lediju. The properties are now meeting four out of five categories, with the leasing portion still failing. 

The Housing Authority, which oversees public housing in San Francisco, has taken “corrective action” against Eugene Burger via a “monitoring process.” Walton appeared to think this was inadequate. 

“I definitely don’t want to go in circles,” Walton said. “The main thing from the hearing is we have a contractor in place that failed to meet objectives. We need proof … changes are improving for residents.”

Trash and squatters

Management reportedly addressed trash and squatters, two top issues for residents. Daily site-inspections are made, and Lediju said she visits the site frequently herself to check on refuse and trespassing. 

Lediju said a majority of “bulky” trash items come from residents. She and Teresa Pegler, the president of Eugene Burger’s affordable management division, noted that it’s difficult to beautify the area, because tenants’ abandoned or stolen cars are left on the premises, an issue they are working to resolve. 

Eugene Burger has a daily trash pick-up schedule now, and Recology promised more than 141 bins to be delivered by months’ end at Sunnydale.

The supervisor called the situation “unacceptable.”

“What are you going to do to make sure the trash is maintained until Recology comes or until Superman comes?” Walton said sarcastically. 

Pegler demonstrated a photo of streets lined with trash bags taken by Mission Local in May, and compared it to a picture of the same street “a day later,” completely litter-free. “It’s a daily thing we are constantly taking care of,” Pegler said. 

“I’m really interested as to why you presented this slide as a positive for Eugene Burger,” Walton shot back. “That came from a direct result of an email from my office to the Housing Authority.”

Lediju acknowledged squatters in public housing sites are a “safety issue” — she noted a staffer was accosted by one — but said it’s been difficult to prevent and evict them from inhabiting vacant units. Management boarded up units, but at least one person trespassed multiple times. “We can inspect [units], but we cannot remove” people, she said.

Capacity, money

Eugene Burger claimed it has insufficient staff and money to adequately maintain the sites. 

Meanwhile, the company lost significant staff during the pandemic, and has not rehired for those positions. Presently, 16 workers and outside hires are on-site, a number Walton emphasized should be sufficient to meet residents’ needs. 

Eugene Burger should hire residents for those roles, Walton said. Any excuse to not do this is “bullshit,” he said. Presently, two residents per site are hired to do work. 

Supervisor Catherine Stefani also questioned the city agreements that pay Eugene Burger to run the sites:  “I don’t understand why we continue to engage and ask people to do the work if they are not able to perform it,” she said. 

“The contract was developed, so it was paid on a per-door flat rate,” Pegler replied. The contract paid staff to manage 200 units, they are overseeing “300 vacant units on top of it.” Over the years, a loss of staff caused work-order abatement and management to diminish.

Supervisor Dean Preston said that while it’s true the government has disinvested in public housing, the city has $20 million for subsidized housing repairs. He urged Eugene Burger or the Housing Authority to tap the Board of Supervisors or mayor to use it if needed. 

And Supervisor Walton, for his part, said he was tired of finger-pointing.

“You all have to figure out how to work together to make sure that residents’ needs are met,” he said. “Pointing fingers at another entity is not something I am concerned about. All of you are in the position to meet those needs.” 

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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.

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  1. Sounds pretty similar to the way things were in public housing when the Housing Authority was in charge.

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  2. I just recently moved out of the Potrero Hill neighborhood because it was too much going on up there. Since EBMC took over management things has gotten worst. The grass use to get cut in a regular basis, now grass would be almost to our knees. Some squatters weren’t all bad, some actually did work EBNC wasn’t doing, but what housing was doing before. Pest control use to come on a regular basis as well and that hasn’t happened not one time since EBMC been around. Most unit there are infested with mice and roaches. Ive lived there 20 years and I haven’t seen roaches until now. It’s disgusting. EBMC and the Shanti PACT program has also been prioritizing the drug dealers more in the neighborhood more. The drug sea who are from the neighborhood, but do not currently live in the neighborhood got offered housing like section 8 before actual rent paying rent as were offered, which isn’t fair at all. EBMC is fully aware of the drug dealing and completely aware of some of those drug dealers using vacant units as their stash spots or trap house as they say now a day. EBMC management either gets paid by these bug time people from the neighborhood or they’re afraid of them. There’s been situations a tenant or a drug addict would mess things up or steal from EBMC and before they contact their boss or the police they go and have a talk with one of the guys up there that is feared the most. It’s to the point where they would skip on boarding up a vacant unit or they’ll open up a vacant unit for some of these people.

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  3. Not many organizations in S.F ,that get all this money seem to be doing the right thing or they are overwhelmed and then give up and go to the dark side then they profit personally, while people struggling. Please we SAN FRANCISCIAN NEED TO DO BETTER. MOVE OVER SITE WHEN THROWING MONEY AT PEOPLE IN ANY ORGINAZATION. I’m living in my car and life is hard . LETS ALL GET IT TOGETHER NO MORE CORRUPTION PEOPLE

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