by Lynda Carson
[dropcap]E[/dropcap]fforts to privatize public housing in Berkeley and across the nation may have gotten a little easier with the introduction of H.R. 6468, the Rental Housing Revitalization Act, introduced to the House of Representatives on Dec. 1, 2010.
While tenant activists across the country were focused on fighting against the proposal to privatize public housing that was called PETRA, the federal government pulled a bait-and-switch, and renamed PETRA the Rental Housing Revitalization Act after PETRA received so much bad press and resistance from tenant groups.
The Obama administration has been pushing hard to reorganize the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), in an effort to privatize our nation’s 1.2 million public housing units, and merge HUD’s 13 major subsidized housing programs.
First came the proposal known as the Preservation, Enhancement, and Transformation of Rental Assistance (PETRA), plus the proposal known as Transferring Rental Assistance (TRA).
After much bad press and vocal opposition across the nation occurred, PETRA and TRA have been merged into a new proposal called the Rental Housing Revitalization Act (RHRA) that was introduced as H.R. 6468 on Dec. 1, 2010.
Just like PETRA and TRA, H.R. 6468 plans on looting the Section 8 program to help finance the Rental Housing Revitalization Act, and the privatization of public housing.
One major result of H.R. 6468 will be that homeless persons hoping to receive a housing voucher by signing up for the Section 8 program waiting lists, may have to wait many years longer because the Section 8 voucher will end up going to public housing tenants instead.
Another is that if H.R. 6468 becomes the law of the land, the 13 major HUD housing assistance programs may all be merged into one huge new hybrid program, with only one funding stream.
Currently, each HUD housing assistance program has its own budget and funding stream. If H.R. 6468 is passed into law, no one will be able to tell any longer which housing program for the elderly, poor and disabled is being cut back or looted the most.
In addition, if the Rental Housing Revitalization Act is passed into law, public housing projects across the nation may end up privatized, saddled with huge debt, and exposed to bank foreclosure.
The supporters of the Obama administration from the National Low-Income Housing Coalition currently have nothing bad to say about the latest proposals to privatize our nation’s public housing.
However, it has been reported that Jon Gutzmann, executive director of the St. Paul Public Housing Authority in Minnesota, has plenty to say in opposition to the latest PETRA clone known as H.R. 6468. Gutzmann reportedly said, “I’m worried about the potential unintended consequences of simply adding too much debt to the public housing portfolio.”
Gutzman is also very concerned about the loss of Section 8 vouchers that should go to the homeless, but will go to many public housing tenants instead, if H.R. 6468 is enacted into law. The Rental Housing Revitalization Act does not add any new Section 8 vouchers to be included in the scheme to privatize our nation’s 1.2 million public housing units.
In a nutshell, if H.R. 6468 is enacted into law, as many as one-third of the public housing households in the nation may become eligible to receive Section 8 vouchers, making public housing a waiting place for people hoping to receive Section 8 vouchers that can be used on the private housing market.
Thousands of homeless families will suffer in the meantime, because the Section 8 vouchers will go to those that already have public housing, if H.R. 6468 is enacted into law.