July 26, 2011 – (RealEstateRama) — Hillsborough County Affordable Housing and the Tampa Housing Authority (THA) are considering a merger of their Section 8 programs – the housing assistance program for low-income families. Following are answers to some questions that are important in the decision.
Why are Hillsborough County and the Tampa Housing Authority considering a merger of their Section 8 programs to be administered under one organization?
Hillsborough County must examine opportunities to consolidate services with other governmental entities where it can be determined that the result will enhance delivery to customers and save taxpayer dollars. The separate agencies providing administration of Section 8 voucher rental assistance have documented that duplication occurs on waiting lists for rental assistance; confusion exists with customers as to whom they should talk to about service; and landlords providing rental units in both the City and the County have reported differing policy requirements for operation and inspection. One unified agency administration of the Section 8 program should eliminate duplication and confusion.
Presently, Hillsborough County Section 8 is provided approximately $575,000 in support services from the Civil Service, Clerk of the Court, Human Resources, Management and Budget, Payroll, Public Information, Real Estate. Currently, the budget charges to the federal funds supporting Section 8 are approximately $269,000. The difference in cost comes from the general tax funds. The transfer to the Tampa Housing Authority should eliminate the need for general tax dollars to support the operation of Section 8 by the County.
When would the merger become effective?
The merger would be effective October 1, 2011, the date of Fiscal Year 2012 County budget. County’s staff will be released from County positions by September 24, at which time Federal funds will be released to Tampa Housing Authority for administration of the Voucher Program.
What happens to tenants currently being provided with rental assistance from Hillsborough County?
Rental assistance will continue to the approximate 2,000 voucher tenants in Hillsborough County’s program by the Tampa Housing Authority, in addition to the approximate 5,000 voucher tenants currently in the Housing Authority program. There will be no lapse in assistance.
What happens to landlords and their contracts with Hillsborough County Section 8 to provide rental units?
Tampa Housing Authority will maintain and honor all contracts for Section 8 rental units countywide, including those established through Hillsborough County.
What’s next for employees?
Employees with Hillsborough County Section 8 would be noticed formally on July 28 with Reduction In Force notices. If the Board of County Commissioners approves the consolidation of the Section 8 program with Tampa Housing Authority, the draft Interlocal Agreement states: “All employees now assigned to work in the County Housing Choice Voucher Program shall be given first preference for consideration for employment by the Housing Authority in the Consolidated Housing Choice Voucher Program, if they choose to apply for employment with the Housing Authority.”
What happens to the current waiting lists?
Waiting lists for housing choice vouchers are presently maintained by both Hillsborough County and Tampa Housing Authority. The lists will be purged by Tampa Housing Authority for duplication of names and for validation that rental vouchers are still needed. The lists will be integrated in the most equitable method to provide housing preferences for the families on the waiting lists. The County and Tampa Housing Authority are still examining the best method to merge the lists to ensure the integrity of the order of names intact on both lists and to not increase waiting time for any individual.
What is the next step in the merger plan?
An Interlocal Agreement between Hillsborough County and the Tampa Housing Authority must be finalized and approved by both jurisdictions in order for the transition to occur. The Housing Authority Board of Commissioners approved the Interlocal agreement on July 20, 2011. The plan is to bring the interlocal agreement, as approved by the Housing Authority, to the Board of County Commissioners for their consideration and approval in August. If amendments are needed by the Board of County Commissioners, the amendments will be sent to the Housing Authority for further action and approval before final action is taken by the Board.
Who makes the final approval?
The actual transfer of the Hillsborough County Section 8 program to the Tampa Housing Authority must also be approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. HUD has already expressed that they are “looking forward to getting this done as quickly as possible.” HUD has previously approved the transfer of Sarasota County Section 8 to the Sarasota Housing Authority. If there are delays in the actual transfer of the program to the Tampa Housing Authority, the transfer of funds and employees will have to be delayed to coincide with final approvals. At this time, such delays are not anticipated.
Residents who are involved in the Section 8 program and have questions on how this merger may impact them should contact Paula Harvey, Affordable Housing Services, (813) 612-5397.
Cellular Phone: 813-426-2494