Sorry report card on Marin City housing
Updated: Jun 2, 2018
POSTED: 03/11/18, 2:25 PM PDT
Publication: Marin Independent Journal: Editorial
Marin City resident Damian Morgan walks past Marin City high-rise apartments in 2017. (Robert Tong/Marin Independent Journal)
This may not be the way the members of the Marin Board of Supervisors want to look at it, but in one of the wealthiest communities in the nation, the largest county-run, federally funded public housing complex has received miserable grades for maintenance and safety.
The supervisors make up five of the seven members of the Marin Housing Authority board, and given that four of them have been in office for at least three years, they can’t shrug off responsibility for that grade.
They prefer to blame HUD funding formulas that have not kept pace with growing maintenance needs at the aging Golden Gate Village in Marin City. Obviously, the county’s strategy of depending on federal funds — and allowing local residents to live with safety and health problems — is not working.
“We probably got the worst score we have ever gotten, and we are contesting that now,” said housing authority chief Lewis Jordan. He, however, admits that there are many items on the list that need to be addressed.
That was good to hear.
He also points out that the grade is an example of why there is a need for a costly upgrade and modernization of the 57-year-old Golden Gate Village complex. It isn’t right, however, to make tenants wait for a plan that’s already been talked about for nearly a decade.
Health and safety problems need to be addressed now.
Jordan also said he’s aware of the rat problem at the complex and the authority has hired an exterminator to check for problems every week. Obviously, that doesn’t seem to be working either.
Supervisors seem to be able to find taxpayer cash they need for many other priorities. Buying the San Geronimo Golf Course is one of them. The county is working on borrowing $17.8 million to fix up county facilities across the county. Keeping Marin City public housing in good repair for its tenants should be one of them.
Golden Gate Village is facing a crossroads as the county has proceeded with planning an overhaul of the complex. That plan may include tearing down the apartment towers and rebuilding the housing as the least-expensive strategy, as the cost of needed repairs — estimated to be as much as $63 million — may be more expensive than new construction.
A hurdle for those plans is complying with last year’s designation of Golden Gate Village as an historic district, a remnant of the Bay Area’s history and the work of Frank Lloyd Wright disciple Aaron Green, who guided Wright’s design for the Marin Civic Center through construction.
Jordan says the authority’s planning process will include figuring out how its plan will comply with the requirements of the historical designation. But that is a long-term process and the need for many of the repairs is now.
If the county has to invest its own cash to supplement HUD’s now long-term short-changing of needed repairs, then the supervisors need to make it a public priority.
Supervisor Kate Sears, whose district includes Marin City, should be an outspoken public advocate for keeping the housing complex in good repair — today. Conditions at Marin City also should be a priority for Rep. Jared Huffman, who as Marin’s congressman should demand that HUD housing be kept in good shape, including federal financial support toward that goal.
Blaming HUD is not going to fix broken windows, buckling pavement and water and electrical problems.
It may be less expensive for the county’s budget, but it isn’t right that Marin City tenants have to pay the price for that public strategy.
To read original article posting, click here: http://www.marinij.com/opinion/20180311/editorial-sorry-report-card-on-marin-city-housing