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Non-profit audit reveals mismanaged finances, misused SF city funds

San Francisco City Hall, San Francisco, California.
Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz
Wikimedia / Creative Commons
San Francisco City Hall, San Francisco, California.

The San Francisco non-profit, HomeRise, is one of the city’s largest housing providers for formerly unhoused people. They have an annual budget of $34 million dollars, managing more than 1500 units across 19 properties.

HomeRise develops affordable housing for formerly unhoused individuals and families; this includes constructing new buildings, and fixing or leasing existing ones. At those properties they provide a number of services, including maintenance, janitorial, and other supportive services.

Over the last couple years, they’ve received more than $200 million in loans, subsidies, and grants from the city. But concerns about their spending started as early as 2021. That’s when the City’s Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, or HSH, noticed discrepancies and ineligible expenses in their January 2021 invoicing.

HSH and the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development say they met with HomeRise in 2021 and 2022. But the nonprofit was unable to fix the issues the city raised at those meetings. The city ultimately requested the city controller audit the non-profit.

The audit, which was released on Tuesday, covered calendar years 2019 to 2022, and part of 2023. It focused only on financial matters, and did not investigate the non-profits' supportive services, or its facilities and maintenance management.

The audit found more than $200,000 in unplanned and unbudgeted staff bonuses, and millions of dollars of unexplained spending, among dozens of other issues.

HomeRise hired new executives in 2023, who say they have implemented new policies and procedures to address these issues. But the city was unable to confirm these claims.

HomeRise operates nearly a third of city-funded units that serve formerly unhoused people.

Wren Farrell (he/him) is a writer, producer and journalist living in San Francisco.