Embattled Housing Authority To Review Status Update

By Suzanne La Barre
Tuesday July 25, 2006

The Berkeley Housing Authority (BHA) board meets tonight (Tuesday) for an update on the status of the troubled local housing agency.  

The board, composed of all nine city councilmembers and two residents at large, is slated to hear a report on an assessment, due to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) at the end of August, that details the Housing Authority’s management of the federal Section 8 program. 

HUD has called out the authority for managerial deficiencies, including miscalculated rents, incomplete inspections and re-evaluations, and issues with housing quality standards. If the assessment shows BHA failed to correct problems by June 30, the authority could undergo major restructuring—a new governing body, for instance—or possible dissolution. The city manager is in the process of negotiating with HUD over the local agency’s future. 

The Berkeley Housing Authority administers about 1,800 Section 8 vouchers, owns 75 units of public housing and manages other local public housing programs. HUD funds the agency with an estimated $27.4 million a year. 

In response to uncertainties surrounding Berkeley’s Housing Authority, a stable of local advocates have mobilized, urging the protection of public housing and Section 8. (Though Housing Department Director Stephen Barton has underscored that, even if the authority is taken over, existing Section 8 recipients will not lose their vouchers.) 

The meeting takes place at 6 p.m., at 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way.