Big Plan to Overhaul Oakland Public Housing

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The Oakland Housing Authority, perhaps the city's largest landlord, manages two different types of housing: large, multi-unit complexes, and smaller apartment buildings of around six units apiece, scattered around town. For years, the Oakland Housing Authority has either been too broke or too incompetent to maintain the so-called "scattered sites," and many of these small complexes have degenerated into horrific nests of drug dealers, homeless squatters, blight, and misery. Now, the Housing Authority has a plan to deal with them once and for all, according to the Oakland Tribune.

It's basically an accounting trick. As long as the units are part of the Housing Authority, federal Housing and Urban Development officials will only give OHA $500 per unit. But if these same units were run by a private landlord under the Section 8 program, the federal subsidy would jump to as much as $1,000 a unit. We bet you can see what's coming. Yes, the OHA plan is to transfer the title of these scattered site properties to a private entity, who will run them as Section 8 housing. The Housing Authority could then use the extra cash to rehab some of its more dilapidated large-scale complexes, or possibly build new housing. The details haven't exactly been worked out yet; the Housing Authority would like to find a nonprofit partner or create one out of whole cloth, but some residents are worried this could trigger a process that eventually converts the units into market rate housing they could no longer afford. But the Housing Authority looks pretty intent on making this happen.

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