The Journal Star recently ran a story on Peoria Housing Authority trying to rely less on money from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
This paragraph caught my attention:
“Written comments provided by North Valley Alliance, which represents the neighbors of Taft Homes and the proposed site of its redevelopment, Greeley School, implied these were areas in which the PHA disappointed so far in the planning process, chastising board and staff members for poor coordination with the city of Peoria and a “my way or the highway” attitude.”
At a Breakfast Chat meeting, I once asked PHA executive director Brenda Coates why the PHA didn’t make a list of all Section 8 properties and post it on the Web. “Oh no, we can’t do that,” she said. “It would violate tenants rights.”
Some caveats here. There are only some 1,600 Section 8 rental properties in Peoria, a small portion of total rental properties. I’m willing to bet there are wonderful people in your neighborhoods who are in the Section 8 program, people most other neighbors are unaware are living in Section 8.
What it boils down to is this: Section 8 rents are paid by taxpayers. The program is administered by a public entity, the PHA. By refusing to release a list of Section 8 homes, the PHA is essentially removing a program it administers from public scrutiny. That cannot stand. It might be a little bit embarrassing to be identified as a Section 8 renter, but that’s the price you pay for all that free rent.
If the PHA is following some iron-clad HUD rule, then Peoria is better off without their money. Frankly, Peoria will see rent prices drop like a stone once the PHA stops paying the $700 or $800 a month rent the slum lords are charging for these hovels, as they are now.
The PHA wants the City of Peoria to approve zoning requests and other things that will allow the PHA to close Taft Homes and move the residents elsewhere. And that’s not going to happen until the PHA makes neighborhoods happy.
And that is the “my way or the highway” attitude that the PHA needs to worry about.