Richmond housing authority moving forward with plans to convert public housing to Section 8 model | City of Richmond

Local officials are pressing forward with plans to ask the federal government to convert the city’s public housing complexes to the Section 8 housing choice voucher program.

The Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority’s Board of Commissioners on Monday passed a resolution authorizing a study of the steps needed before the agency seeks permission from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to replace public housing funding at Creighton, Fairfield, Gilpin, Hillside, Mosby and Whitcomb courts with vouchers.

The switch is desired because federal payments for Section 8 are higher than for the public housing program, which would free more money for maintenance and redevelopment planning needs.

Problems, including breaking sewage lines, mold, defective heaters and deteriorating concrete foundations, are accumulating in the city’s public housing communities, while federal subsidies for repairs have dwindled.

“In the current way, the public housing platform is going to be pretty challenging as the budget gets cut and the funding for the repairs and the capital improvements gets cut,” said agency CEO T.K. Somanath.

Somanath said that public housing regulations are onerous and that moving to the Section 8 program would give the authority more flexibility to operate the complexes as a private management company in a way that allows it to be more innovative.

The board’s long-range plan is to redevelop all the communities, but officials view the conversion as necessary for buoying the apartments as the agency prepares for the future.

In Richmond, the change would amount to roughly $7.5 million extra annually for roughly 4,000 public housing units, according to estimates from the agency.

The authority would receive about $35 million in annual revenue under the Section 8 program, according to agency…

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