City Council moves to evacuate Hacienda

A view of Hacienda housing project in Richmond. (Photo by: Sukey Lewis)

A view of Hacienda housing project in Richmond. (Photo by: Sukey Lewis)

In a special meeting to address poor public housing conditions exposed by media reports nearly a month ago, the Richmond City Council voted to draft a plan that includes evacuation of Hacienda, where residents have been living in apartments affected by mold, vermin and a leaky roof.

Under the action taken at Wednesday night’s special session, residents at Hacienda, one of the city’s five public housing projects, will receive Section 8—federal housing assistance—vouchers and help finding alternative housing. The evacuation is estimated to cost around half a million dollars.

However, City Manager Bill Lindsay told the council he does not know where the city will get this money.

“I have a concern that, with your good intentions, you may be exacerbating the problem,” Lindsay said. He said the process could lead to “unintended consequences.”

Housing Authority director Tim Jones cautioned against too much haste, saying some residents will get the vouchers and move out right away but others, especially seniors, may need more help understanding the program.

“We just need to make sure that we move forward very carefully so we don’t drop anyone. We don’t want anyone to fall through the cracks,” Jones added.

Jones suggested the council to hold off on the evacuation in the hopes that funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will come through. Jones said the city could begin a 90 to 120-day application process with HUD to try and obtain funds for the proposed relocation.

Mayor Gayle McLaughlin said the situation can’t wait for HUD.  “This is something we are doing for the benefit of the health of the residents, sooner [rather] than later,” she said.

Councilmember Tom Butt left before the vote was held, and said he wouldn’t support the resolution, calling it “irresponsible” and “immature.” He suggested polling residents of the housing project to see if they want to be relocated.

“I left the meeting before the vote was taken because chaos reigned in the chamber and the mayor was either unable or unwilling to keep order and allow me to even speak on the issue,” Butt wrote in his e-forum. “A vocal minority of Hacienda residents has been controlling this agenda ever since the yellow press descended on Richmond.”

City staff was directed to return to the council with a plan in two weeks.

4 Comments

  1. Jimmy wu

    Rep George Miller, D-Martinez, “refused to blame the city public housing problems on funding cuts … Saying the fault lies squarely with local officials .” The local staff official in charge is the city manger Bill Lindsay. The city manger can simply find the money for relocating the tenants by cutting city staff , start with the housing director Tim Jones , there is $170,000 , then move to the planning and building director , another $239,000 , simply have your assistant city manger take over these management functions to direct the staff. Take control of your city and maybe you can keep your job , if not after the election , your out .

  2. tony

    I agree with Tom Butt , HUD cut funding , and this isn’t “a hotel with maid service ” , however , I also agree the city has a huge staff which isn’t business friendly . This is a poor city and spent $100,000,000 for a new city hall and now they say they can’t afford $ 400,000 , or to fix our streets . Think about it , is it time for new leadership ? I’m told staff spends like crazy on credit cards for hotels , food , gas extra , stop spending our money and take care of the city and not yourself,

    • You know city hall was crumbling and crusty as fuck before we reinforced out against earthquakes and modernized it with the support of and for use by the people of Richmond, and it took years and years, decades to get the ball rolling, the 500,000 here can’t just appear overnight and the mayor has completely remodeled and modernized several housing projects which where in atrocious condition such as Easter Hill and Crrsent Park that look respectively cookie cutter and solarly conscious now, let’s ask #BarackObama for help, why not?

  3. Jimmy wu

    Tony , there are many good people living in public housing including our veterans. It’s not a hotel , and many are hoping for change. It’s rumored Tim Jones is on his way out. The city plans to be out of public housing in 18 months. We agree it was foolish for a city to spend 100 million on a city hall while being poor . Wonder if the FBI will investigate , clearly with the city managers office running a private interprise out of city offices , and the housing authority rumored to be selling vouchers , steeling a car , and millions in debt with bad accounting , giving relatives overtime , what about the 100 million spent on city hall ? Where did that money go ?

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