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Housing authorities need more resources to administer Housing Choice Voucher Program
by Lynda Carson (tenantsrule [at] yahoo.com)
Tuesday Feb 21st, 2017 1:23 AM
Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) are not receiving enough money from HUD to administer the Housing Choice Voucher Program (section 8 voucher program) properly. Reportedly there are around 140,000 vouchers being unused by people who are eligible for section 8 vouchers (Housing Choice Vouchers), partly because PHAs do not have enough resources to administer the program, according to the Public Housing Authorities Directors Association (PHADA)!
Public Housing Authorities need more resources to administer Housing Choice Voucher Program

By Lynda Carson - February 21, 2017

Oakland - According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Oakland Housing Authority has 13,422 federally subsidized housing units in it’s section 8 inventory, and 2,122 units in it’s low rent inventory, formerly known as public housing units.

Reportedly, during 2015, only 19% of the new Housing Choice Vouchers (a.k.a. section 8 vouchers) handed out to low-income renters in Oakland to assist them with their housing needs were able to be used. Unfortunately for the section 8 voucher holders, there were not enough landlords willing to accept them. The City of Oakland does not have any laws on the books that make it illegal for landlords to discriminate against section 8 tenants. But it should.

Recently in Santa Monica, CA., it was reported that an ordinance prohibiting discrimination against section 8 voucher holders was upheld in a ruling by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lisa H. Cole, in a case that may have far-reaching effects. The ruling may prompt other local governments throughout the state to pass similar ordinances to prohibit discrimination against section 8 voucher holders like they already have passed in the cities of Woodland, San Francisco, East Palo Alto, Corte Madera, Santa Clara County and Marin County.

Section 8 renters should not be faced with discrimination by landlords who may want to discriminate against them because they are African-American, which is often the case. Often landlords discriminate against section 8 tenants because many low-income African-American families with children use section 8 vouchers to assist in their housing needs, and other landlords discriminate against section 8 tenants because they may be so greedy, that they believe they can get more money from renters that are not in the section 8 program. Whatever the case may be, it is legal in California for landlords to discriminate against section 8 renters.

Public Housing Authorities need more resources to administer the Housing Choice Voucher Program

Making matters worse, Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) are not receiving enough money from HUD to administer the Housing Choice Voucher Program (section 8 voucher program) properly. Reportedly there are around 140,000 vouchers being unused by people who are eligible for section 8 vouchers (Housing Choice Vouchers), partly because PHAs do not have enough resources to administer the program, according to the Public Housing Authorities Directors Association (PHADA).

It would go a long way in helping out the homeless in Oakland, San Francisco, Richmond and Berkeley, if those 140,000 unused section 8 vouchers were available to assist those in need.

According to HUD, “Administrative fees are a vital component of the HCV program, providing PHAs with the resources necessary to administer the requested rental assistance for approximately 2.2 million families. Failing to provide adequate administrative fees will disrupt PHA operations and will impact efforts to achieve agency priority goals such as maximizing the number of families housed through HUD’s affordable housing programs, serving homeless veterans and other vulnerable populations, and expanding housing choices in areas of opportunity, generally those areas with lower concentrations of poverty, lower crime, more job opportunities, and better schools.”

As recorded and reported on Feb 15, 2017, in a YouTube video sent to PHAs all across the nation by PHADA, ”The Public Housing Authorities Directors Association (PHADA) has documented that tens of thousands of housing vouchers that are authorized and funded are going unused, in part, because HAs do not have the adequate financial resources they need to run the program. In the face of low fee funding prorations and tight budget caps year after year, PHADA’s voucher fungibility proposal would maintain HUD’s discretionary authority to augment appropriated fee prorations in a given year (e.g., FY 2017) up to 95%, by approving HA's use a portion of their Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) reserves from a previous year for each leased household. PHADA Executive Director, Tim Kaiser, and Policy Analyst, Jonathan Zimmerman discuss the fungibility proposal with an eye towards educating elected officials about the merits of adopting it into law.”

Tenant activists are urging low-income renters in HUD’s subsidized housing programs to contact their representatives

As reported in Poor Magazine and the Indy Bay News Wire, tenant activists are urging low-income renters in HUD’s subsidized housing programs to contact their representatives during February 18 - February 26, to speak up in support of HUD’s subsidized housing programs. Massive budget cuts to the federal government are being proposed ranging from $6 trillion to $8.6 trillion, and to as much as over $10 trillion during the next ten years.

In the Bay Area according to HUD, the Oakland Housing Authority has 13,422 federally subsidized housing units in it’s section 8 inventory, and 2,122 units in it’s low rent inventory, formerly known as public housing units.

San Francisco has 9,711 units in it’s section 8 subsidized housing inventory, and 3,756 units in it’s low rent inventory. San Francisco is in the process of privatizing more than 4,584 public housing units under the RAD program. South San Francisco has 80 units in it’s low rent inventory.

According to HUD, there are approximately 1.2 million households living in public housing units, managed by around 3,300 Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) across the nation.

Additionally, according to the National Low-Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), the Housing Choice Voucher Program (section 8 voucher program) assists more than 2.2 million low-income households across the nation including veterans, the chronically ill, elderly, blind and disabled.

Millions of households across the nation being assisted with their housing needs from HUD’s subsidized housing programs, will will be severely impacted or made homeless if the GOP/Republicans have it their way. If President Donald Trump and Congress cuts the budget of HUD’s subsidized housing programs in the near future, including severe budget cuts or the elimination of the Housing Choice Voucher Program being proposed as an option, it will be a total disaster for millions of children, veterans, the chronically ill, elderly, blind, disabled and low-income families locally, and across the nation.

The Housing Choice Voucher Program (section 8 voucher program) is already being underfunded according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), and rental assistance to families with children is at lowest point in a decade. More budgets would be a disaster for millions of families, and will result in much more homelessness in the Bay Area, and across the nation.

Additionally, thousands of renters residing in the so-called affordable housing projects of the nonprofit housing developers in the East Bay would be placed at risk of homelessness if Trump/GOP cuts the budget to HUD’s subsidized housing programs.

In other cities in the Bay Area. The Richmond Housing Authority has 1,851 units in it’s section 8 subsidized housing inventory, and 559 units in it’s low rent inventory.

Berkeley Housing Authority has 1,935 units in it’s section 8 subsidized housing inventory, and has sold it’s 75 public housing town homes to some out of state billionaires.

Alameda Housing Authority has 1,845 units in it’s section 8 subsidized housing inventory. The Alameda County Housing Authority has 6,341 units in it’s section 8 subsidized housing inventory, and one low rent housing development managed by the agency.

In Contra Costa County, there are 6,921 units in their section 8 subsidized housing inventory, and 1,177 low rent units.

In Marin County, there are 2,162 units in their section 8 subsidized housing inventory, and 496 low rent units.

Tens of thousands of low-income households in the Bay Area, including veterans, the chronically ill, elderly, blind and disabled, are being placed at risk of homelessness if the Republicans have it their way, now that they have gained full control of the House and Senate, including the White House. In recent years, it has become apparent that the Republicans want to dismantle HUD, and terminate all of it’s subsidized housing programs.

Doctor Ben Carson who recently bought a new home in Vienna, Virginia, near D.C., who still has a comfortable home in West Palm Beach, Florida, that is for sale, is still waiting to be approved by the full Senate in coming weeks as the new Secretary of HUD.

Tenant advocates and low-income renters in HUD's subsidized housing programs hope that Ben Carson will be supportive of the millions of children, veterans, the chronically ill, elderly, blind, disabled and low-income families in HUD's subsidized housing programs, and that he will defend HUD's subsidized housing programs against the proposed catastrophic budget cuts being proposed by President Donald J.Trump, and the extreme right-wing Republicans in the GOP.

As the housing crisis continues to get worse in the Bay Area, at least in Richmond there has been another victory for rent control and the voters and renters, against the notorious meddling of the California Apartment Association.

Lynda Carson may be reached at tenantsrule [at] yahoo.com

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