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Housing authorities across the country are dealing with a growing problem related to our public housing programs. Federal funding for the public housing program has not kept up with the rising costs of providing and maintaining the housing. Presently, housing authorities like the San Diego Housing Commission receive only 78 cents for every dollar we need to maintain the basic public housing program. This systematic disinvestment of public housing threatens local agencies’ ability to preserve public housing units and undermines services to residents in the form of reduced building maintenance and fewer programs for seniors and children. Many of us fear this problem will only get worse as budget constraints in Washington tighten.
I’m proud to say that the San Diego Housing Commission is planning ahead and seeking a solution intended to benefit those in need of affordable housing. A summary of our plan was detailed in a recent San Diego Union-Tribune article.
In short, the Housing Commission would like to ask the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to transition our public housing units to the Section 8 rent assistance program. This idea would allow us to maintain our existing stock of 1,200 public housing units, grant our current customers the greater freedom that the Section 8 program provides, and potentially leverage our public housing to create additional affordable housing units for San Diegans.
To that end, the City Council’s Land Use & Housing Committee is meeting today at 2 pm to study this matter further. If you’re interested, head down to the 12th floor committee room or watch it on CityTV. Also, I’d like to know what you think of the crisis in public housing and the San Diego Housing Commission’s proposed action to address it. Feel free to post your thoughts using the link below.