Monday, March 5, 2007

Housing authorities and inefficiency …

Miami    Why are so many local housing authorities inefficient?  In Miami-Dade County, Florida, the housing agency “is a mess,” as reported by NPR this morning.  Meanwhile, there is talk of having a federal HUD takeover of the authority, as discussed in the Miami Herald this winter.  Among the complaints with the Miami-Dade Housing Agency is that a lot of money has been spent but few housing units have been built or supported, even as older public housing units have been demolished. 

  Last week, I wrote in favor of greater governmental efforts to support the construction of semi-permanent housing for the chronically homeless.  This week I write to express concerns about entrusting matters as important as low-income housing to public authorities.  Conservative humorist P.J. O’Rourke has written that to call something “public” is to define it as inefficient.  (Think of the current news about Walter Reed Army Medical Center.)  This may be unfair, of course, to many dedicated pubic officials.  But there is often reason for concern in the running of housing authorities.  It is a thankless task to try to swim counter to market forces and foster low-cost housing while trying please various political constituents.  It requires knowledge and skill in dealing with real estate, construction, and tenant relations, among other factors, beyond politics.  Employees are often poorly paid, and the housing authorities often do not attract employees with the experience necessary to run such a complex operation.

   What is the solution?  One way to help is for the watchdogs of government -– the news media, housing residents, and other public-spirited groups –- to complain loudly when a housing authority is not doing its job.  The spotlight trained on Miami-Dade at the moment is likely to help matters significantly, including providing better oversight by governmental leaders who otherwise might not pay much attention to their local housing authority.

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Many of the problems stem from the lack of effective leadership and suffocating redtape. Although that can be said of any government agency, housing issues constantly encounter an unending review process that is inefficient, confusing, and time intensive. One solution to help to solve this dilemma must start from within these public housing agencies; they must hire qualified, driven, and talented officials that have discretion to get things done, which can only come about if the agencies make it financially and professionally worth while for one to be an employee.

Posted by: Housing Remedy | Mar 7, 2007 7:58:58 AM

Our Housing Authority's in Oklahoma are much better. I'm a resident of Commerce Housing Authority in Oklahoma, our manager used to live in Public Housing when he was a teenager and so he understands the 'poor & less priveledged' a little better than some. Since he has been here apartments get updated twice a year, free dinners are given to poor people, children at the Housing Authority are given gifts in the summer and around christmas time! Sounds like Florida Housing Authority Board Members should hire college trained professionals that know what 'poor' is, usually people that have had it rough, will help others that are going through the same situation they once where. I blame the Board Members more than the Housing Management for the miss deeds that your Florida Housing is going through.

Posted by: Lacy | Nov 28, 2007 2:10:38 PM