There is no better poster child for than The Hacienda for the neglect by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) of public housing in the City of Richmond. In 2014, The Hacienda, operated by the Richmond Housing Authority (RHA) and funded by HUD, was occupied as subsidized affordable housing by 100 seniors and people with disabilities. For years, HUD had starved the RHA of funds required to maintain the Hacienda, and the building slipped in disrepair. The 50 units on the top floor were vacated because HUD would not provide funds for the seriously leaking roof.
What the Hacienda looked like in 2014
In 2015, the RHA succeeded in vacating The Hacienda, but only after I had to go to Washington DC, and along with Congressman Mark DeSaulnier, beg for enough Section 8 vouchers to enable the Hacienda residents to find alternate lodging.
By the end of 2015, The Hacienda was empty and had become a nuisance and an eyesore. The plan was to “reposition” the building by transferring ownership to Mercy Housing, a non-profit affordable housing developer that would use tax credits and HUD grants to rehabilitate the project and restore it to active affordable housing. The project received a “demolition/disposition” approval from HUD in 2015, but progress towards actual disposition has been slow due to HUD red tape.
Today, the building stands vacant and heavily vandalized, occupied by dozens of squatters and used periodically by prostitutes. The neighbors have complained bitterly for over a year to no avail. On June 27, 2017, the Richmond Housing Authority Board of Commissioners (City Council plus two appointed RHA residents), authorized a $84,000 contract with Vacant Property Specialists (VPS) , supposedly experts in securing building, to secure the building.
Today, Saturday, August 19, 2017, I visited the building and found it wide open, heavily vandalized, strewn with trash and occupied by squatters. See my video on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o98iUc54UlQ&spfreload=10.
I lay the blame for this squarely on HUD because, as the only funding source for housing authorities, they do not provide sufficient funds to maintain and operate public housing. Then they blame deficiencies on the victim – in this case the Richmond Housing Authority. That’s why I want to get Richmond out of the no-win business of operating a housing authority. See City of Richmond to Consider Investigating HUD and Dissolving the Richmond Housing Authority, August 18, 2017.