Work has begun in earnest at the San Francisco Housing Authority to improve scores recent reported to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. The scores reported to the Public Housing Assessment System totaled 54 out of a possible 100, landing the City and County’s Authority on the “Troubled” list.

The scores, which are self-reported by the Housing Authority to the US HUD, had been contested by officials in San Francisco. But after that appeal was denied, a 30-day clock for corrective action began.

In addition to taking remedial steps internally, the US HUD has created a Puiblic Housing Agency Recovery and Sustainability Team to work with the “Troubled” department to improve conditions. Creating a PHARS team is step required by federal statute.

Specifically, members of this team will work with local counterparts to improve management practices and financial affairs. Those areas scored the lowest of the areas included in a PHAS score. San Francisco received just 5 points out of a possible 25 for its finances, and 12 out of 25 for management.

According to documents provided to PublicCEO by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, typically troubled agencies developing remedial plans to improve conditions look to “(1) increase revenue; (2) decrease expenses, or (3) implement a combination of both.”

Revenue increases can be achieved by raising minimum rents, increasing occupancy rates, or selling under-performing properties; while expenses can be curtailed through means other than staffing – such as increases energy conservation efforts, reducing the number of vehicles in a fleet, or even contracting property maintenance.

In the case of San Francisco, the Authority reported an occupancy rate of 93 percent, good enough for 5 out of 5 points.

Of the 114 housing authorities, just San Francisco and Richmond made the troubled list. A score of 60 is considered the minimum score to not be considered Troubled.

The City and County have 30 days to prepare their Improvement Plan.