The Taylor Housing Authority (THA), located approximately twenty-five miles east of Austin, Texas is seeking a VISTA to help develop a homeownership program. THA has been in existence since 1949 and owns a housing development with 43 units and provides rental assistance to approximately 210 vouch program participants. THA also manages the Round Rock Housing Authority (RRHA), which is approximately ten miles from Austin. RRHA owns 100 public housing units and assists approximately 250 housing choice voucher program participants.
The homeownership program will assist low income families to transition from rental assistance to homeownership. Homeownership is one of the primary ways low income families build assets for themselves.
The VISTA will help develop a written homeownership program plan, assist in the development of policies and procedures for the program, and help with developing marketing materials for the program. This will involve research and the ability to write a variety of policies and procedures.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has reopened and is back in business. THA was glad to hear this, as HUD is our primary funder. They provide operating subsidy for both public housing and voucher programs as well as monies to pay landlords. Landlords are very important too. They provide the units for our voucher program participants to live in. THA provides rental assistance to these families and they must go out and find units to lease. With rents escalating in the Austin area, this can become very challenging.
HUD support is very important for small housing authorities, because they usually have limited reserves. It is very hard to try to run a housing authority without any financial support. HUD provides financial subsidies, so housing authorities can keep the rents affordable and make sure participating landlords can be paid.
THA has been receiving inquiries as to whether landlords will receive rental payments over the next few months. Though HUD is one of the government offices, which has closed, we will continue to make rental payments to landlords for February. However, we have not received notice from the government as to whether the partial shutdown, if continued, may delay future Housing Assistance Payments to our landlords. We will try to get both landlords and program participants informed of any updates as we receive them.
If anyone has concerns about the shutdown, they can contact their representatives in Washington. Everyday more and more people are being affected by the shutdown. We hope that it doesn’t go on much longer.
The Taylor Housing Authority will continue to help families in need, even while the government shuts down temporarily. This includes accepting work orders, collecting rents and listening to our residents. It is surprising when others complain about having to respond to program participants questions. We believe that if it weren’t for our residents, there wouldn’t be any need for the staff to be here.
Even with the government shutting down, THA is looking forward to a good year in 2019. Most of our funding comes from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) but we feel confident that the government will be up and running soon. We have started the process of renovating the properties we own. Additionally, we plan to expand our community garden and bring more resident services to Mary Olson. As a small housing authority, it is challenging to expand our programs and services, so we rely on partnerships. We are fortunate that there are a variety of people in the community who are willing to partner with us.
Many small housing authorities seem to think that they cannot expand their own programs and services because they do not have enough staff. That is when we start looking for volunteers and partnership opportunities. Anything can be accomplished, so long as you keep moving forward. Happy 2019 to everyone!
THA ended 2018 with a great celebration. We held a meeting with our residents to inform them of our upcoming plans for redevelopment, as well as celebrated the end of a great year! The residents were glad to receive an update and enjoyed the festivities. It is important to keep our residents informed of our future plans. This is not only helpful for them, but is a requirement by HUD.
THA is redeveloping the Mary Olson apartments under a program called RAD. Rental Assistance Demonstartion program. This is a program which allows housing authorities to convert their properties to market units. Once converted they are no longer considered public housing. It is a positive move for small housing authorities as the federal government continues to reduce our funding and the capital needs keep increasing. Mary Olson was built in 1972 and is showing its age like many of the public housing stock across the country.
HUD classifies a small housing authority as one who administers less than 500 units. Taylor Housing Authority (THA) is classified as small because we administer 209 housing choice vouchers and manage 43 public housing units, for a total of 252.
THA may be classified as small, but it is a BIG job to administer these programs with a small staff of four and limited financial resources. However, we are fortunate because there many other public housing authorities (PHA’s) with even fewer units and fewer resources. In Texas there are over 400 PHA’s with some of the smaller ones having less than 50 units total!
THA is currently working to bring back the Avery apartments. The Avery apartments were flooded in 2015 and we are in the process of redeveloping them. We have obtained approval from HUD to demolish and redevelopment them. It may seem like a small task, but there are many things involved. Across the country, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is encouraging PHA’s to consider redevelopment under the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program. Under this program, PHA’s terminated their contracts with HUD, apply for vouchers for the families who live in them and redevelop the properties with other funding. Yes, it seems like a great idea, but we are expected to do this on our own! More coming soon on small PHA challenges.