San Jose housing authority wants more control over city’s housing programs

After years of rocky relations with the Santa Clara County Housing Authority, San Jose is looking for more say over housing programs for the city’s low-income residents.

The SCCHA — which operates right now without county supervision — has handled San Jose’s rent vouchers for more than four decades, and the city has complained it has little say in how programs are run.

According to a recent memo by the head of San Jose’s housing authority, Jacky Morales-Ferrand, “major decisions, such as using funds on pensions, land purchases, disposing of public housing, and project basing SCCHA units, have been made without the knowledge or consent” of the city because the agency has said the current agreement doesn’t require it.

That’s despite the fact that, according to her memo, the SCCHA can use city money for county programs.

While the relationship has been strained for some time, the county’s board of supervisors is now considering overseeing the agency. And while they’ve said they’d allow the city’s housing authority to serve on an advisory board, city officials see an opening to push for more control.

On Tuesday, the San Jose City Council is set to vote on giving Morales-Ferrand permission to go to the agency with a promise to terminate their 1996 agreement with the city if the supervisors become the SCCHA governing board and negotiate a new agreement or look at other options altogether.

Right now, the SCCHA only has to get city approval on “significant policy decisions,” meaning the city has no say in budget discussions or senior staffing decisions.

The city tried to renegotiate the agreement in 2011 and criticized the agency for “a lack of transparency,” but those efforts fell through, with the county and housing authority both pushing back at the city’s suggestion to form a Joint Powers Authority.

“Should the Board of Supervisors take control of the SCCHA and assume the governance of the SCCHA,” Morales-Ferrand warned, “the City Housing Authority’s ability to influence policy decisions…would be substantially reduced.”

But Katherine Harasz, the executive director of the SCCHA worries that if the city sets off on its own, tenants and landlords will be forced to deal with two sets of policies and more bureaucracy.

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Harasz said she thinks the city and SCCHA have “been working very well together” in recent years, and that many of the concerns in the memo have been addressed.

“I …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


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