THOMAS JAMES, RV TAYLOR AND BOYKIN TOWER
SECTION 18 DEMO/DISPO
How did we get here? Decades of physical neglect and deterioration finally caught up to Thomas James, RV Taylor and Boykin Tower. As physical conditions continued to spiral out of control vacancy rates skyrocketed to unacceptable levels. A Physical Needs Assessment confirmed costs to rehabilitate the developments exceeded established HUD parameters; therefore, the developments were deemed obsolete and initially tagged for Mandatory Conversion then Section 18 Demolition/Disposition. However, MHB must receive approval from the Special Application Center (SAC) prior to taking any action.
Couldn’t MHB simply rebuild public housing onsite? No. The magnitude of operational and fiscal challenges discovered during a 2018 audit resulted in HUD placing the agency under two regulatory agreements to improve compliance, operational efficiencies and fiscal management. Shortly after Executive Director Pierce arrival in July 2019, HUD indicated MHB’s portfolio of properties would have to be repositioned to other forms of HUD rental assistance to help the agency better address rehabilitation and physical needs, as well as place properties on a more stable financial foundation. Implementation will be accomplished through Asset Repositioning.
What exactly is Asset Repositioning? Asset Repositioning is HUD’s shift away from traditional public housing strategies to a voucher centric platform when obsolete developments are razed. Asset Repositioning relies on private and nonprofit developers to construct, rehabilitate, own and manage affordable units. As a result, MHB will not construct any new public housing developments nor provide one for one-unit replacement.
Were residents consulted? Yes. Per HUD requirements, in addition to consulting residents on the PHA Plan, MHB informed impacted residents of the coming changes on several occasions. Residents received initial meeting notification via flyer distribution. The public was given notice through press release and posts on MHB’s website. Resident consultation meetings for the three developments were held as following: (1) Residents Advisory Board (RAB) - August 13, 27 and September 19; (2) Thomas James & RV Taylor - August 13 and December 20 and (3) Boykin Tower - August 27 and December 20.
Were impacted elected officials apprised? Yes. In mid-August 2019 Executive Director Pierce met with District 3 Councilman CJ Small, State Representatives Drummond, Clarke and County Commissioner Ludgood in MHB’s Boardroom. Representative Jones and School Board Commissioner Battles were invited to the meeting but did not attend. Pierce also informed Mobile County Schools Superintendent Threadgill and Mayor Stimpson.
So, what’s Next? MHB will submit Section 18 Demo/Dispo applications for Thomas James, RV Taylor and Boykin Tower to the SAC by November 30. SAC approval is not expected until May 2021.
Then what? Upon receipt of SAC approval, MHB will have 5-years or 60 months to complete the Demo/Dispo process. Based on the projected approval timeline MHB will have until May 2026 to complete the project.
What happens to the residents? Stringent relocation guidelines accompany Section 18 Demo/Dispo’s. Accordingly, MHB: (1) must offer all residents comparable housing (Public Housing, S8 voucher, PBV); (2) must provide 90-day notice to residents; (3) must provide counseling/advising services; (4) must pay actual and reasonable moving costs (e.g., security/utility deposits); (5) must be in compliance with fair housing (e.g., accessible units); (6) cannot begin relocation (issue 90-day notice) until HUD approval; and (7) cannot begin demolition or complete disposition until residents relocated.
Will residents be forced out of the community? Not necessarily. Federal Fair Housing laws prohibit restricting resident mobility. However, residents desiring to remain in the community will have the opportunity to do so. MHB staff will provide counseling and advising services to residents as they look for housing.
Wait, what about the scarcity of affordable housing? To combat this problem MHB has and continues to seek partnerships with private and nonprofit multifamily housing developers planning to construct and renovate 300+ affordable units in the district and beyond over the next 24-48 months. The targeted developments have committed to accepting impacted resident vouchers.