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BHA begins to address needs of Section 8 program

Daily Planet Staff
Monday March 19, 2001

In an attempt to facilitate rent hikes for Berkeley landlords approved by HUD two years ago, the interim manager of the Berkeley Housing Authority discussed the procedure with the Black Property Owners Association on Thursday. 

Recently hired BHA manager Sheila Maxwell provided the landlords with a copies of the application for rent increases and a two-page list of procedures landlords must follow to legally receive the increases, said Frank Davis, president of the BPOA. 

According to the handout, the rental increases will provide landlords with “rents that are similar to market rents.” 

In February, at a Housing Authority Board meeting, interim Housing Director Stephen Barton and Maxwell outlined the two major failings of the Housing Authority. One was the organization’s inability to provide Section 8 landlords with increases approved by Housing and Urban Development and the other was the agency's failure to process a backlog of qualified Section 8 applicants.  

BHA, which was $255,000 over budget last year and is projected by Barton to be $245,000 over this year, is at risk of being dissolved by the City Council, which has the authority to do so under state law. 

Neither Maxwell nor Barton returned Daily Planet calls Friday to update housing authority progress in the areas of deficiencies they had defined in February. 

HUD has made 1,840 Section 8 certificates available to the Housing Authority, but as of February only 1,300 households were receiving the rental subsidies. Last year the city was fined $54,000 by HUD for failing to process the backlog of applications. 

The shortcomings of the Housing Authority have been amplified by many Section 8 landlords who have taken their properties out of the program seeking higher profits on the Bay Area's red-hot rental market.  

Councilmember Dona Spring said at the February BHA board meeting that Berkeley lost an average of 10 Section 8 units a month in 2000 compared to a rate of 2.5 during 1999. 

According to the information Maxwell gave BPOA members, new payment standards will allow landlords to receive $750 for studios, $980 for one-bedroom units and $1,308 for two-bedroom units. 

The procedures for landlords to receive the increases include filling out a one-page application and giving 60-day notice to eligible tenants. BHA inspectors will verify that the unit meets HUD standards and the rent increase should go into effect on the anniversary the tenancy began. 

Davis said Maxwell addressing his association seemed like a step in the right direction. “It's a start but BHA is in bad shape and will have to really follow through to turn things around,” he said. 


For more information about applying for rental increases or for Section 8 call the Berkeley Housing Authority at (510) 644-4840 or e-mail at