Feb 5, 2015

Residents of Richmond’s long-troubled Hacienda housing complex will soon receive Section 8 vouchers so they can move to new homes, Mayor Tom Butt’s office announced Thursday.

The approval of federal funds to relocate residents from the aging Hacienda comes nearly a year after Richmond Housing Authority (RHA) Executive Director Tim Jones called the building “uninhabitable,” a declaration that prompted Richmond City Council to seek federal approval for relocation.

The Section 8 vouchers will allow residents to relocate to privately-owned rentals, the mayor’s office said in a statement. Currently, 101 of the 150 units in the building are occupied.

Residents will also receive financial assistance for the cost of packing, moving and security deposits. RHA will also open a relocation office to assist tenants, the mayor’s office said.

The Hacienda will undergo a $20 million renovation project and current residents will be allowed to return once it is finished, according to news reports.The relocation process will take six months, and the renovation to begin afterward will take 24 months, according to the mayor.

On Friday at 3 p.m., Mayor Butt, Congressman Mark DeSaulnier and Jones held a public event about the relocation process at the Hacienda complex at 1300 Roosevelt Ave.

“Officials came together from coast to coast to make this happen,” Butt said in a statement. “We knew this was a top priority and we all rolled up our sleeves to make sure the application and funding would be fast-tracked.”

In March, after Richmond council voted to relocate Hacienda residents, an “Inventory Removal Application” was prepared to notify the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), according to the mayor’s office. After submitting the draft application in May, local officials worked with HUD officials to produce a final application that would be approved. The final application was submitted in November and was approved by HUD last month, the mayor’s office said.

The Section 8 vouchers for Hacienda residents were approved this week, which the mayor called a quick turnaround. He said the process could have taken another four months to review. DeSaulnier was credited with helping to expedite the process.  DeSaulnier said the relocation “will allow individuals and families to immediately begin finding and settling into a better housing situation.”

“I will continue monitoring this process to ensure the timely distribution of federal funding,” DeSaulnier added.

A media investigation led by the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) exposed squalid conditions at the Hacienda, including infestations of bugs, rodents and mold, ceiling leaks, broken windows and plumbing issues.

Meanwhile, CIR probed allegations of gross mismanagement of the Richmond Housing Authority, one which led to a criminal investigation into a maintenance supervisor accused of steering RHA contract money to a vendor linked to her husband. And the agency’s top officials were also accused misspending federal funds while ignoring pleas from tenants living in squalid conditions.

CIR’s reports have prompted a Contra Costa County civil grand jury investigation.


  1. Thanks Mike for telling the whole story. What is happening at the Hacienda is a disgrace. Housing Director Tim Jones should be fired and the housing maintenance director and her husband should be headed for prison. Unfortunately, in West County politicians and upper management rarely if ever go to jail for anything that the residents would do time for.

    Charles T. Smith | Feb 5th, 2015
  2. Clearly there are to stories here , the first story focuses on the lack of accountability and what was reported by the press to be nepotism in city management . There was a Criminal investigation by the Richmond Police department and a civil grand jury exploring the abuses. What are the results?
    The second story is a relocation of tenants and a new $20 million project in upgrading this housing complex. We will demand accountability and transparency.
    We were surprised by the news conference with ,Tim Jones front and center . Can we conclude by his participation that his department was cleared by the civil grand jury and the criminal investigation . If so why wasn’t that made public ?

    Richard Poe | Feb 6th, 2015
  3. So working taxpayers are going to be paying for these people to move to new homes, and their rent and their security deposits and probably the utilities and cable and then 20 million more of our money will go to these 101 households, The project will probably cost 3 times the projected since the govenment is involved and the cost for rehousing these people will be in the millions. Then you wonder why working people are paying 15 to 30 percent income tax and payroll tax rates, they are taking the money from you and giving to the welfare moms so they can have brand new apartments. I can’t wait until the Republicans dismantle HUD and section 8 once an for all. The FY2016 budget will be the first of the massive cuts to this communist program that is robbing the middle class, destorying middle class neighborhoods and schools.

    JW | Feb 9th, 2015

About the Author

Mike Aldax is the editor of the Richmond Standard. He has 13 years of journalism experience, most recently as a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner. He previously held roles as reporter and editor at Bay City News, Napa Valley Register, Garden Island Newspaper in Kaua’i, and the Queens Courier in New York City.