Working to Make Housing Agencies
Allies Not Enemies
Commissioner Tommy Adkisson
July 14, 2005
As founder of a neighborhood association some twenty-five years ago, I discovered long ago that the condition of housing to a large degree sets the tone for the neighborhood. It causes pride or shame. It attracts or repels good neighbors. It builds value or creates loss. It can spawn or control crime.
When neighbors and I agreed that opposition was necessary I have fought against public housing. Recently, some of my constituents have begun the process of a "velvet revolution" in the manner in which housing agencies deal with residents in one of the Precinct Four neighborhoods in Northeast Bexar County. Our work in the Montgomery Drive Neighborhood area should provide a model by which we deal with housing challenges in neighborhoods across the Precinct and beyond.
I have found that any neighborhood ages and with aging comes the need for attention. This is precisely why I formed and continued to be active in my own neighborhood association. Sometimes the meetings are merely informational, but when a perceived or real crisis erupts in your neighborhood, the association can be an incredibly powerful vehicle to inform and pull residents and members together to speak with a unified and organized voice!
What I am specifically working with in the Montgomery Drive area is Section 8 housing. In the unincorporated Montgomery Drive area, 440 houses qualify for more than $2.5 million in Section 8 rental assistance according to Chuck McCulloch of the Express-News. SAHA is currently conducting inspections of the 354 houses for which it provides subsidies.
As part of the process, the housing agency is making landlords bring their homes up to standards or risk losing their federal rental assistance, which averages $477 monthly. A side benefit of the inspections of the subsidized housing is the identification of the non-subsidized houses needing improvement that have been allowed to decline.
The list of elements of a strong neighborhood agenda includes but is not limited to:
- Proper economic development
- Access to health care (where necessary)
- Crime Prevention
- Quality of Life
- Legal (Code) Compliance
The above list pertains to some but not all neighborhoods. One thing is for sure: it is in all of our interests to live among neighbors who reside in nice neighborhoods that are safe, secure conducive to building a great community.