Letter to The Record about the Challenges Abound In Public Housing

In his letter to The Record Peter W. Ragsdale writes

I write to thank you for the coverage in the Feb. 9 Record on our ribbon cutting at the Conway Apartments, one of the many public housing properties managed by the Housing Authority of the County of San Joaquin.

However, I’d like to clarify some of the financial points covered in the article. While HUD estimates a capital backlog of public housing in the billions, absent an increase in funding, there are no current opportunities available from HUD to meet these needs. Thus, while our local HACSJ receives approximately $1.8 million dollars annually in Capital Fund dollars from HUD, this sum only addresses a small portion of our properties’ capital needs. This reality has existed for almost 10 years and must be immediately addressed.

Therefore, most public housing authorities (“PHAs”) have, over the last five-plus years, looked for other options and have not rested on their laurels. Most PHAs have applied for Low Income Housing Tax Credits (“LIHTC”) Program. This LIHTC Program, which is co-administered by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee (TCAC), provides capital funding to develop affordable housing.

Most nationwide experts and experienced public housing executive directors agree that this program remains the best vehicle to modernize public housing stock. Frankly, the combination of tax credits for development and rental subsidy from HUD, are currently the only truly effective method to meet the billions of dollars needed to modernize the public housing properties in the county. The time is now for this agency to explore new funding opportunities.

Although the Authority has not been involved in tax credit development, the HACSJ’s Board of Commissioners and I recognize this priority and are taking steps to move into this program by agreeing to participate as a non-profit sponsor in partnership with DFA Development for the development of Cottage Village Apartments in Manteca. This first step in evaluating the tax credit application process is a necessary, and frankly, a critical step to protect this needed community public housing.

Again, thank you for coverage and I appreciate all the support, effort and kind works that make the occasion of a ribbon cutting memorable.

— Peter W. Ragsdale is executive director of the Housing Authority of the County of San Joaquin.