Johnson City Housing Authority wants to phase out public housing - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

Johnson City Housing Authority wants to phase out public housing

The Johnson City Housing Authority is proposing a major overhaul that would lead to the demolition of apartments, the renovation of others and the construction of new ones.

It's part of an effort by the agency to completely do away with public housing and transition tenants to private, Section 8 homes that are subsidized by the government.

The housing authority wants to move all of its 2,600 tenants to private apartments over the next 12 years. It's a massive proposal that's part of the national Rental Assistance Demonstration program approved by Congress.

JCHA Executive Director Richard McClain says the first phase of the project alone would cost $20 million. He is hopeful the state will fund the project and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will accept Johnson City's application.

If the JCHA's proposal is approved, McClain says the plan would be to renovate 206 apartments in the Lake Terrace and Memorial Park communities. In addition, he says the agency would build 100 new apartments. As a result, the agency would demolish the current Fairview and Dunbar communities and build new units for the people who lived there at another location, McClain said.

"The Rental Assistance Demonstration program is designed to address the issue of upgrading aging public housing properties," McClain said. "It's time to do something with (our 50 and 60 year-old apartments), because they're not energy-efficient and they really have small closets, small bathrooms. They're really not up to current building codes and standards."

People who could be impacted learned the details today at two meetings. The agency previously held another meeting earlier this month to address the proposal.

"JCHA expects all three phases of the RAD program to take 12 or more years to complete due to the limited funds available," McClain said. "Residents may be required to relocate as we upgrade public housing. JCHA will assist the tenant with relocation. Some tenants will have an option to move back to their unit following renovation. Tenants that receive an offer to move to a new apartment are expected to remain in the new unit. The RAD program offers protection to tenants as they transition from public housing to the Section 8 program."

The proposal could also impact people with high incomes who live in public housing.

"The Section 8 program has income limits and if your income exceeds the limits then you receive no government subsidy for rental assistance," McClain said. "The tenant has limited time allowed to be in the program if their income exceeds the limit. The RAD program provides protection for three years from these income limit rules."

Copyright WJHL 2013. All rights reserved.

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