Public Housing in Private Hands

  • March 21, 2021
A private developer proposes that Plaza East Apartments in San Francisco, built less than 20 years ago, be demolished and rebuilt. Tenants want to see a plan for repairs to existing homes. (Yesica Prado/San Francisco Public Press)

With the pandemic raging, San Francisco Public Press and Nina Sparling focused on the most vulnerable renters in the nation’s most expensive housing markets, people living in subsidized housing. Her stories focus on their risk of eviction and displacement. In a continuing investigation, Sparling’s reporting has revealed that city officials have known for years about poor living conditions in one public housing development and that the company that built the complex twenty years ago is seeking federal approval to demolish and rebuild it. Her stories have also examined the limits of local and state eviction moratoria.

The reporting team includes data journalist Frank Bass and research assistants Ande Richards and Imran Ali Malik, who are students at UC Berkeley’s Investigative Reporting Program.

It may have been obvious to many San Franciscans that during the pandemic, low-income people and frontline workers were at greater risk of housing displacement. But it took the focus and attention of Investigative Editing Corps editor Mia Zuckerkandel to motivate our staff and a freelance data analyst to tell the story with authority and specificity. Mia’s energy and expertise helped our staff dig up public records and report deeply on a complex, timely and hugely important public policy story.

– Michael Stoll
executive director and editor | San Francisco Public Press

Editor: Mia Zuckerkandel

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Mia Zuckerkandel is learning a lot about evictions on this project. Previously, she learned about illegal bail schemes while editing an investigation for KQED and about arsenic, pork producers, and surveillance, among other topics, while working for Reveal/The Center for Investigative Reporting.