Congresswoman Maxine Waters questions RAD, calls for more public housing protections

by Lynda Carson

San Francisco – In an Oct. 14 celebration of the privatization of our public housing, which threatens the poor, elderly and disabled with displacement from their homes, Mayor Ed Lee was joined by U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julian Castro, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Board of Supervisors President London Breed to highlight Phase 1 of the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program in San Francisco. They celebrated the $1.69 billion transformation plan to privatize 4,584 of San Francisco’s public housing units.

U.S. Congresswoman Maxine Waters – Photo: AP

Meanwhile, in contrast to the hoopla and razzle dazzle of Mayor Ed Lee and company to hoodwink the public into believing that privatizing public housing is a good thing, an Oct. 7 letter from Congresswoman Maxine Waters to Comptroller General Gene L. Dodaro of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) calls for more protections for public housing and public housing tenants being threatened by the RAD privatization program.

Congresswoman Maxine Waters is the ranking member of the House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services.

In her letter, Congresswoman Waters expresses many concerns about the nature of the RAD program that will privatize 185,000 of our 1.2 million public housing units across the nation, if it is implemented as directed, and she has many questions for the GAO.

“Specifically, I request that the GAO examine if and how the RAD program is operating to achieve the stated goals that RAD was enacted to accomplish. The review should include the following questions and others you may determine to be necessary to fully evaluate the performance of the demonstration,” she writes.

Click here to read the letter and see the full list of questions being asked by Congresswoman Waters.

An Oct. 7 letter from Congresswoman Maxine Waters to Comptroller General Gene L. Dodaro of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) calls for more protections for public housing and public housing tenants being threatened by the RAD privatization program.

In the recent past, Congresswoman Waters denounced the RAD program and sent a letter to President Obama, asking him to reconsider the program because she believes that it will do more harm than good.

The critical questions Congresswoman Waters asks of the GAO regarding the privatization of public housing under the RAD program are not being asked by the supporters of the RAD program, including Mayor Ed Lee.

Clearly, the voice of Congresswoman Maxine Waters and her concerns over the rush to privatize our public housing needs to be heard all across the nation, despite the efforts of Mayor Ed Lee and others to ignore her.

Oakland City Councilmember Desley Brooks – Photo: Megan Molteni
Oakland City Councilmember Desley Brooks – Photo: Megan Molteni

Section 8 voucher holders under attack

Additionally, in an effort to save low income renters in the Section 8 – or “Housing Choice” – voucher program from unwarranted rent increases, during the week of Oct. 7, Oakland Councilmembers Desley Brooks and Lynette Gibson McElhaney protested in front of Oakland City Hall in an effort to convince HUD to stop some major rent increases being imposed on Section 8 voucher holders before they take effect.

Brooks and McElhaney want HUD to reexamine a formula being used that would result in lower rent subsidies to Section 8 tenants in Oakland and Alameda County. The faulty formula relied on two-year-old data from 2009-2013, which showed that rents decreased in Alameda County.

Newer data reveals that rents have increased in Alameda County from 2013 to 2015, and Section 8 voucher holders are at risk of facing lower rent subsidies as a result of the faulty data HUD is using, according to the council members.

Lynda Carson may be reached at tenantsrule@yahoo.com.