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A couple of news bits this morning from the San Diego Housing Commission:

  • The Housing Commission’s president and CEO, Betsy Morris, announced her retirement after 27 years at the agency and 13 years as its leader, effective Jan. 15, 2008. Here’s the release from the Housing Commission and here’s the letter she sent the Housing Authority/City Council.
  • Morris’s announcement comes as the federal department of Housing and Urban Development has approved the agency’s plan to remove itself from the federal public housing program. Funding restrictions in the national program prompted the agency in January to present a plan to convert its 1,366 public housing units to normal rental properties accessible to low-income tenants via the Section 8 voucher program.

That request will propose that the 1,366 apartments currently operated as public housing be removed from the federal program. Tenants residing in the units would receive Section 8 rental assistance vouchers, which they can use to remain in their unit or move elsewhere in the city.

From our coverage of the proposal in January, when we heard from Housing Commission spokeswoman Erika Rooks:

The Section 8 program draws funding from a separate program in the federal government. As such, residents will not be relocated and their rents won’t be raised under the re-designation, Rooks said. And the Housing Commission could use the revenue stream of the rental units to create new affordable housing for the city.

Today, Rooks called the HUD-approved plan “groundbreaking,” as San Diego is the first housing authority to opt out of the public housing program.

Correction: We previously reported that the changeover would double the amount of Section 8 vouchers in San Diego based on information provided by the Housing Commission. In fact, it would augment the total by about 10 percent, adding approximately 1,366 vouchers to the current 12,000, according to the Housing Commission.

KELLY BENNETT

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