City Housing Authority Director resigns
San Francisco Housing Authority Executive Director Gregg Fortner
tendered his resignation yesterday during a closed session
of the regularly scheduled Housing Authority Commission meeting.
By Mike Aldux
September 28, 2007
Mayor Gavin Newsom has accepted the resignation
of San Francisco Housing Authority Director Gregg Fortner, according
to the mayor's office.
Fortner tendered his resignation yesterday during the regularly
scheduled Housing Authority Commission meeting.
The resignation is effective Jan. 4, 2008, the mayor said in
The mayor said he is initiating a national search to fill the
post. City Administrator Ed Lee has been appointed to lead a transition
team until a new director is hired.
Newsom said he has been advancing reforms at the troubled SFHA
for the last three years, most notably in the creation of HOPE
SF, an initiative to rebuild San Francisco's most distressed public
housing sites into vibrant, new mixed-income communities.
"I want to thank Mr. Fortner for his service to the Housing
Authority. I appreciate his hard work in these very challenging
times," Newsom said. "There is much work to be done
rebuilding our most distressed public housing, and I am committed
to making immediate and lasting change for public housing residents."
For his part, Fortner released the following statement to Fog
City Journal following his resignation:
"Over the last two weeks, City Hall staff has expressed
to me the Mayors feeling that it is time to make a change
in the leadership at the San Francisco Housing Authority. I agree.
"Therefore, my last day with the agency will be January
4, 2008 after seven (7) years of service.
"There are many factors contributing to this decision. For
me, the proverbial 'straw' was the editorial cartoon printed in
the San Francisco Chronicle on September 1, 2007. The cartoon
was offensive to me both professionally and personally. Additionally,
the degrading racial imagery contained in this cartoon shows an
incredible insensitivity to the struggles and history of the African-American
people in this country. Although City Hall apparently has little
control over what is presented in the media, recent public behavior
by City Officials contributed to a perception that such political
satire was appropriate and acceptable.
"Over the next three months, I will work diligently to facilitate
a smooth transition to the Citys new direction. During this
time, I wish to express my deepest and most sincere gratitude
to the residents of Public Housing and Section 8, the Housing
Authority Commission, the staffs of Speaker Pelosi and Senators
Feinstein and Boxer, HUD officials in DC and here in San Francisco,
the many business and community partners working with the Housing
Authority, and the numerous public and private entities that have
helped us survive the challenging environment in which we must
operate. Most of all, I wish to thank the outstanding staff of
the San Francisco Housing Authority who have performed far beyond
any reasonable expectation in an environment defined by diminishing
resources and increased expenses."
In addition to Lee, transition team members listed below will
have the following responsibilities:
- Dwayne Jones, director of communities of opportunity (COO)
- resident engagement;
- Chief Heather Fong, police department - public safety
- Mirian Saez, director of Island Operations, Treasure Island
- property management and operations;
- Doug Shoemaker, deputy director of the mayor's Office of Housing
- capital planning and housing development;
- Mohammed Nuru, deputy director of Department of Public Works
- maintenance; and
- Todd Rydstrom, Controller's Office - finance
The transition team will be guided by a May report created this
year by a panel of national and local experts on public housing,
the mayor's office said. The panel made recommendations regarding
SFHA financial practices, service provision, public safety, real
estate operations and property management.
The report provided strategies for addressing problems created
by funding cuts for capital repair funds and decreased operating
support from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development
(HUD), the mayor's office said.
The transition team will also be guided by the recommendations
of the HOPE SF task force.
The report helped encourage Newsom and the Board of Supervisors
to commit to investing $95 million towards a first phase of HOPE
SF. The first HOPE SF revitalization site is Hunters View, a 267-apartment
complex in the Bayview District, the report said.
The city's Housing Authority is the oldest in California and
oversees 6,156 units of public housing and 10,129 Housing Vouchers,
according to the mayor's office.
Luke Thomas contributed to this report.