HUD gives Marin City complex poor score; county says changes needed
Updated: Jun 2, 2018
POSTED: 03/02/18, 6:12 PM PST
Author: Mark Prado
Publication: Marin Independent Journal
Housing Authority chief Lewis Jordan, responding to a critical report on the Golden Gate Village, said, “We need to fix it.”
A new federal review shows Marin City’s Golden Gate Village has problems ranging from broken windows to buckled pavement, and county officials say the conditions only underscore the need for changes at the public housing complex.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development inspected Golden Gate Village in late January as part of an annual review and found problems with boilers, roof vents and potholes on the site, among other issues.
“We probably got the worst score we have ever gotten, and we are contesting that now,” said Lewis Jordan, head of the Marin Housing Authority, which runs the complex. “We got dinged for water erosion, we got dinged for tripping hazards, we got dinged on electric. There is a whole list. We need to fix it.”
But the money to make wholesale changes is not there. The Marin Housing Authority’s sole source of income to make improvements is $500,000 in annual money received from HUD. Until recently, fixes to the 57-year-old complex were pegged at $16 million by the county. While $16 million would help with initial repairs, comprehensive work over several years would cost $63 million, officials said.
“We need to do something so the quality of housing is improved,” said Supervisor Kate Sears, who represents Marin City.
There is a plan to bring mixed-income housing to Golden Gate Village. Last year Tampa-based CVR Associates was tapped by county officials — at a cost not to exceed $200,000 — to look at the future of the 296-unit Golden Gate Village.
The plan calls for partial redevelopment with an emphasis on green technology. One possibility floated is to build that mixed housing on open space at the 32-acre Golden Gate Village site.
“The federal government hasn’t paid adequately for public housing for more than 20 years,” said Matthew Hymel, county administrator. “We are at the point where we need to do something and what we are looking at is this mixed-income model.”
Under the plan, a development partner could be selected as soon as this fall and the Marin Housing Authority would move forward with a planning process in which specifics would be developed.
A plan could move the public housing complex toward a rental assistance demonstration program. It is a method authorized by Congress that allows public housing agencies to convert units to project-based Section 8 contracts. The properties are then no longer restricted from securing private sources of capital financing, which allows for more money for repairs.
Rents of current tenants would be the same and it would allow for the building of new units so families at a variety of income levels could move onto the site.
The plan has led to some skepticism.
“We do have concerns and that’s why we are working to protect the tenants,” said attorney David Levin of Legal Aid of Marin, who has been tracking the issue. He said in other parts of the country public housing has faced “de facto demolition” as buildings fall apart, they are deemed unfixable and are replaced.
“It would be unfortunate to let that happen here,” Levin said. “We really have to recognize the value of this housing and its historic nature.”
Last September, Golden Gate Village was granted national historic status. The complex is the work of Frank Lloyd Wright disciple Aaron Green, nationally known Modernist architect John Carl Warnecke and Marin’s own renowned landscape architect Lawrence Halprin. But the county’s plan indicates changes to the structure still can be made.
“Because it has that designation, we want to honor it,” Jordan said, adding that doesn’t mean Golden Gate Village structures can’t be touched. “There was this notion that because there is the historical designation you can’t do anything and that’s so not true. There will be an ongoing conversation. We still have to figure out how to navigate that.”
Golden Gate Village’s Residents Council — an advisory panel — has not signed off on the plan. Royce McLemore, a Marin City Community Services District director and Golden Gate Village resident who led the charge for historic status, said the county never considered a plan residents put forth.
That plan focused on “21st century green technology” for the renovation and retrofitting of Golden Gate Village. Marin City residents would be trained for the work, McLemore said.
“(The county) is moving forward and they want us to support their plan. We can’t really support a plan that is coming out of this process. They never vetted our proposal,” she said. “We will challenge them every step of the way.”
To read original article posting, click here: http://www.marinij.com/general-news/20180302/hud-gives-marin-city-complex-poor-score-county-says-changes-needed