Sarasota Housing Authority Resident's Association

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

How Many Public Housing Units?

An editorial in today's Sarasota Herald Tribune says in part:

.... federally owned land on which dilapidated public housing now stands is an important asset, in short supply.

It was meant to serve the poorest Americans, and that purpose should remain at the forefront as the projects are transformed.

For this reason, the Housing Authority should set a high goal for replacing public- housing units on site.

To be sure, that's a tough challenge. Financial and zoning limitations make it hard to replace every public-housing unit within the on-site mix of market andsubsidized units.

But if the lowest-income units aren't provided there -- on land already in public ownership -- where else would be less expensive?

As Commissioner Atkins would say: Amen!

We know the waiting list for public housing is long and the need for "attainable housing" for the lowest income segment of our community is great.

A recent Sarasota City Commission decision fast tracked a change giving developers a 400% density bonus if they would include making 10% of the units attainable to families within 60 to 120% of the Area Median Income, in our case about $35,000 to about $72,000. Nothing in this plan would be attainable for people earning less than about $15 an hour.

The Housing Authority has issued a Request for Qualifications to find capable firms that can redevelop the Housing Authority land. The RFQ indicates a feasibility view for what may be possible in terms of number of units, income segments to be served, sources of financial help and other information a potential developer may need.

The potential redevelopment would reduce the number of public housing units from 388 to 282. Other low income rental units included in the feasibility discussion could be attained with Section 8 vouchers.

In an article concerning the RFQ process, Valerie Buchand, the Resident Association President indicated "I have a question to pose to the public, developers and elected officials of this city and county," Buchand said. "Are they behind (in support of) the lowering of the amount of public housing units?"


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