Mar 29, 2014
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Councilman Tom Butt

Councilman Tom Butt

(In his e-mail forum Saturday, Councilman Tom Butt warned about the consequences of a recent decision by City Council to relocate residents of the Hacienda complex, which is Richmond’s most troubled public housing development. The relocation of 130 residents was initially estimated to cost the city, which is grappling with a $7 million budget deficit, just under $500,000. But a relocation plan that is set to be presented at Tuesday’s City Council meeting predicts a higher cost.)

It turns out that vacating the Hacienda as soon as possible is not a simple matter, and either a voluntary relocation or a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-assisted relocation will take months. The voluntary relocation previously ordered by the City Council and Richmond Housing Authority (RHA) commissioners will cost the general fund nearly $700,000 that we don’t have and will further reduce the Housing Authority’s performance rating. It is also fraught with many serious downside consequences.

All this is to show that council and public housing commissioners acted hastily and without prudence.

I continue to believe that this crisis is largely due to HUD underfunding the actual requirements of the RHA, but no one on the City Council (RHA Board) or the press is taking that seriously. The City’s best course of action is to simply give it all back to HUD and let them deal with it. I predict that if the city actually made that threat, HUD would scramble to find a way to fix all this. All HUD is doing now is continuing to strangle the city with red tape and starve us for money.

Read city staff’s report about the relocation plan here.

Continue to follow this issue in the Richmond Standard. Below is one of the initial reports from the Center for Investigative Reporting that exposed deplorable conditions at the Hacienda.