How will Richmond Housing Authority spend HUD relocation funding to help Hacienda residents move?
on March 10, 2015
A month has passed since Mayor Tom Butt held a press conference announcing that Hacienda residents are to move with federally-funded vouchers. At the press conference, Richmond Housing Authority (RHA) executive director Tim Jones said a little over $1 million in grant funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will cover relocation costs for Hacienda residents, who should by now have already moved out of the bug-infested roof-leaking public housing.
A cost breakdown chart provided by Jones shows that relocation allowance for Hacienda residents, a security deposit and first month’s rent, as well as RHA hiring the consulting company Autotemp, account for most of the estimated $1,040,391 relocation cost.
The estimation was based on moving Hacienda’s 111 remaining households. But, Jones wrote in an email, “the total number of households have decreased since the original budget was prepared. The total count is now 101 households.”
The dislocation allowance for the original 111 households is $123,855 in total, around $1,116 per household, according to a chart provided by Jones. Jones wrote in an email that allowance checks will be sent directly to tenants, but “allowances are not issued until new units are located, leases signed, and the moves are scheduled.”
The housing authority also budgeted a “round trip” payment for each of the households to cover their first month’s rent and security deposit not only when they move out of Hacienda to new residences, but also when they return to Hacienda after the renovation.
“We budget the return trip because original residents have the first rights to return to the renovated development at our cost,” Jones wrote. “Many of them will opt not to exercise this right to return, but we have to budget for it just in case.”
For the 102 one-bedroom households, the housing authority estimated their security deposit and first month’s rent as $2,260, putting their monthly rent as $1,130. And the housing authority also budgeted for their return to Hacienda. The total for the 102 households is $461,040. For the nine two-bedroom households, the housing authority estimated their security deposit and first month rent as $2,840, putting their monthly rent as $1,420. The round-trip total for these nine households is $51,120. The total for all the original 111 households adds up to $512,160.
The next big chunk of the relocation cost comes from the housing authority hiring a relocation consulting company called Autotemp. The estimated cost for administering the relocation process is $382,500, according to the housing authority’s chart. Autotemp estimated it can do the job for almost exactly that much: $382,695, according to a proposal Autotemp submitted to the housing authority.
The contractor will provide the housing authority with services that include preparing a relocation plan, program management and database maintenance, according to the proposal. $300,000 of the $382,695, or about 78 percent of Autotemp’s proposed cost, comes from its “permanent relocation” service. This service includes setting up case files, coordinating Section 8 orientations, doing outreach to potential landlords, preparing and delivering notice of eligibility, arranging transportation for residents to view replacement apartments and assisting in their move to their new home.
According to Autotemp’s proposed schedule, the first 95 days will be spent drafting, revising and adopting a relocation plan. The relocation’s estimated completion is four to six months following the relocation plan adoption.
David Richman, president of Autotemp, wrote via email that the company has already held a community meeting and has begun interviews of Hacienda residents.
Constancy Gary, president of the Hacienda Tenants Association, said that Richman interviewed her about whether or not she wants to come back once Hacienda is renovated, where she wants to move and if she wants Autotemp to move her or she wants to move herself. “I’ve seen [interviewers] walking up and down the corridors, going to different apartments,” Gary said. “You can either have them interviewing in your apartment, [or] you can go down to room 115 if you feel more comfortable there.”
According to Richman in a phone interview, Autotemp has worked with the San Francisco Housing Authority, the Housing Authority of the County of Alameda and the Oakland Housing Authority. It is the first time that Autotemp has worked with the Richmond Housing Authority. “Our purpose is to help each household find a replacement home,” Richman said.
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What about rent subsidies for tenants while they live in replacement housing? Are they forced to spend $1,000+ each month for rent?
Despite repeated requests for information, we’ve learned far more from this article than we have from our elected officials.
Considering how big a deal this all was when they were running for office last year, I have to wonder why they seem to have gone silent now that something is happening.
There are still so many questions that need to be answered and the rights of the tenants need to be observed. We’ve learned that the City cannot be trusted or counted on to take care of the tenants so the people need to know more so they can speak up when the City falls down on their job.
Will anyone on the City Council step forward and demand a public presentation or are they going to wait until it’s too late to start asking questions?
[…] The housing authority is paying the contractor Autotemp $382,695 to relocate the families. But some tenants said they have received little search or transportation assistance over the last two weeks since they got their vouchers. Demery said there was one person from Autotemp who interviewed him about what type of place he wanted to move to. […]