One of the most contentious subjects before the Richmond City Council in 2014 was the Richmond Housing Authority operated Hacienda, a public housing facility for elderly and disabled tenants. In March of 2014, the City Council voted to relocate the tenants using Section 8 vouchers. The plan would have cost the City over half a million dollars it did not have.
Housing Authority Director Tim Jones “…suggested the council to hold off on the evacuation in the hopes that funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will come through for the relocation. Jones said the city could begin a 90 to 120-day application process with HUD to try and obtain funds for the proposed relocation. (Contra Costa Times, March 15, 2014).
On April 1, 2014, the City Council voted unanimously to support Jones plan, See Richmond Rethinks Hasty Decision About Troubled Housing Complex.
Obviously, the process has taken far more than 90 to 120 days.
When I became mayor, I found out that the City’s demolition/disposition application was submitted on November 2, 2014, and was still under review. I made it one of my highest priorities to complete the Hacienda residents’ relocation. I solicited assistance from Holland & Knight, the City’s federal lobbyist, and from newly sworn-in Congressman Mark DeSaulnier, and I personally contacted Ophelia B. Basgal, Region IX Regional Administrator. With everyone working on this on an hour by hour basis, I was notified today by Ms. Basgal that she had “ …just received word from HUD headquarters that the approval letter has been signed and the Housing Authority has been sent an electronic copy of the letter.”
Ms. Basgal added, “Congratulations to the City and Housing Authority on this step in the process.”
With that hurdle cleared, the Housing Authority may now prepare an application for tenant protection vouchers for the families. If the Housing Authority’s application is approved and the tenant protection vouchers are awarded, the Housing Authority may then issue the vouchers to eligible tenants which will allow them to relocate. There is no certainty that the vouchers will be approved because they are subject to the availability of the tenant protection vouchers is subject to HUD funding availability.
However, the Mayor’s Office, with assistance from the offices of Senator Feinstein, Senator Boxer, Congressman DeSaulnier and Holland & Knight, will mount a full court press to get the vouchers approved and funded. HUD had estimated 3-4 months for this process, but we are going to ask that it be completed by the end of this month.
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