Strengthening the Walls Between Public Housing and Affordable Housing

Tiny - Posted on 15 April 2014

Lynda Carson, IndyBay Newswire Correspondent

April 14, 2014

In San Francisco and elsewhere, the new mantra being pushed by the Mayor's office and shills for the affordable housing industry is to claim that we need to breakdown the barriers between public housing and affordable housing. This is a sham meant to bamboozle the public out of it's public housing units locally, and elsewhere. This same type of privatization scheme is occurring all across the nation to privatize our public housing, and needs to be countered by any means necessary, whenever possible.

We need to strengthen the walls between public housing and affordable housing before all of our nation's public housing units are privatized and sold off to the so-called affordable housing industry.

What government officials and the shills of the affordable housing industry are not telling you, is that privatizing our nation's public housing units is bad for the tax payers. Privatization places the buildings at risk of foreclosure, displaces the poor from their long-time homes, further enriches the executives of the so-called affordable housing industry, cheats the public out of it's public housing units, and destroys good middle class union jobs in the process.

Simply put, the federal government needs to fully fund public housing projects all across the nation, and the government should purge the shills of the affordable housing industry out of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that are pushing for the privatization of our nation's public housing units.

Recently, San Francisco has embarked on a scheme to sell and privatize around 3,491 public housing units under the federal Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program. A number of nonprofit developers are involved in the privatization scheme including the Tabernacle Community Development Corporation, Mission Economic Development Agency, Bridge Housing, Mercy Housing California, John Stewart Company, Japanese American Religious Federation, Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation, Community Housing Partnership, Bethel A.M.E., San Francisco Housing Development Corporation, Ridgepoint Non-Profit Corporation, Community Housing Partnership, Glide Community Housing, Bernal Heights Housing Corporation, Bridge Housing Corporation, Chinatown Community Development Center, and the for profit housing developer Related California, owned by out-of-state billionaire's Jorge M. Perez and Stephen M. Ross.

It is still not a done deal, and HUD may not approve all, or part of the scheme to privatize the 3,491 public housing units under RAD. However, unless the public gets involved to protest, and stop the process of privatizing our public housing units, the affordable housing industry is in a position to grab and exploit tens of thousands of public housing units all across the nation. The affordable housing industry schemes to reap billions of dollars in profits for years ahead, once it gets it's hands on our public housing.

The scheme to use for profit developers, so-called nonprofit affordable housing developers, bank loans and tax credits to privatize and rehabilitate our public housing units results in poor people being replaced by higher income tenants, to make the new projects viable. Making matters worse, most so-called nonprofit housing developers use "minimum income requirements" at their projects, that discriminate against the poor.

As an example of how tax credits change the makeup of the low-income tenants at public housing developments that have been privatized, what is happening in Berkeley sheds light on what is really happening to public housing projects when they become privatized.

Profile of Berkeley's Public Housing Tenants In 2009

Berkeley's public housing tenants that resided in 75 town homes received a shocking notice dated October 27, 2009, announcing that the Berkeley Housing Authority (BHA) planned to privatize and dispose of their long-time public housing units.

On February 11, 2014, the public housing tenants in Berkeley were sent a notice telling them that their public housing units have been sold and that transfer of ownership was to occur on February 14, 2014, to the new owners who happen to be some out-of-state billionaires named Jorge M. Perez and Stephen M. Ross, of the Related Companies.

The data available is not complete for all 75 public housing units in Berkeley during 2009, but from what data that is available for 57 units of public housing, the data reveals that 15 out of the 57 public housing units had households earning more than $35,000 annually.

Additionally, according to data about Berkeley's public housing units in 2009, there were 39 persons that received Social Security benefits, 36 persons that received SSI benefits, 23 persons that received TANF benefits, and 22 persons that received General Assistance benefits.

From the data available, it appears that at least two-thirds to three quarters of the public housing households relied on one or multiple forms of public subsidy for daily living expenses, and that almost three-quarters of the households earned less than $30,000 annually. Additionally, 60% of the units had three or four members per household, with 85% of the residents that identified themselves as being "Black/African American." There were 11.2% of the tenants that identified themselves as being "White," and 2.2% identified themselves as "Asian." The 2009 HUD AMI for Oakland-Fremont, CA., was $89,300 for one person.

Presently, the average Social Security monthly benefit in California during 2014 is $1,294 per month. The average SSI (disability) benefit payment is $877.40 per month. The average TANF (CalWorks) family in California is an adult with two children that receives $510 a month in benefits. General Assistance in California during 2014 pays $336 per month to a single person. Food Stamps (CalFresh/SNAP) for one person is $189 per month, and persons receiving SSI/SSP are not allowed in the program.

Profile Of Berkeley's 75 Public Housing Units After Privatization in 2014

In regards to the 75 public housing units that were privatized as of February 14, 2014, the affordability breakdown for the new tenants in the privatized units will appear very different from what the tenant's income was as public housing tenants during 2009, according to the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee (CTCAC).

According to data released on September 25, 2013 from the CTCAC for the newly privatized 75 former public housing units in Berkeley using tax credits to rehabilitate the buildings, Related plans for an affordability breakdown of 8 units at or below 35% of AMI, 49 units at or below 50% of AMI, and 17 units at or below 60% of AMI, and one unit for a manager. Currently the 2014 HUD AMI for Alameda County is $88,500 for one person.

The current information available in regards to the situation at Berkeley's 75 former public housing units, reveals that public housing privatization schemes using tax credits to buy and rehabilitate the public housing units, results in the displacement of poor people from their homes and communities.

Strengthening the walls between public housing and affordable housing would help to stop the displacement of poor people from our nation's public housing projects.

Lynda Carson may be reached at tenantsrule [at]


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