Friday, May 18, 2007


A puzzled reader noticed surveying crews at work yesterday near Andrew Adkins and alerted the Growler. According to another neighbor who made some inquiries, major improvements are planned for the walks, porches, and brick work on the Adkins homes.

"I thought ARHA had no money for this kind of stuff," writes puzzled reader.

Here's what the Office of Housing says about maintenance in its FY 2007 Action Plan:
ARHA completed a Physical Needs Assessment in 2005 from which it has prepared a prioritized list of proposed improvements for public housing units. Those specific projects targeted for FY 2007 include: Re-roofing various Scattered Site properties and installing exterior lighting, rerouting or recovering gas leaks that pass through patio area of the Ramsey Homes, installing carbon monoxide detectors in all public housing units, and providing moderate rehabilitation of vacant public housing units. (2007 Action Plan, pp. 40-41.)
Funny that we don't see Adkins listed; perhaps it is in next year's plan and the surveying is part of the preparation.

It's true that ARHA doesn't have the millions on hand to permanently solve the mold problem at Glebe Park. Remediation attempts would cost more than razing and rebuilding most of the project. That's why we had the abortive attempt to privately redevelop the site.

Nevertheless, there are funds still trickling in to ARHA for property maintenance. And it's the source of these funds that is interesting, given City Manager Jim Hartmann's comments at last week's ICCA meeting about the relationship of the City to ARHA.

According to the City's five-year consolidated housing plan for FY 2006-10:
[T]he City has awarded CDBG [Community Development Block Grant] and HOME funds to ARHA in the form of loans and grants for the purpose of purchasing housing units, repairing existing public housing and the providing [sic] security patrols at public housing properties. (Five Year Plan, pp. 98-99).
CDBG and HOME are HUD programs that originate as block grants to states and localities.

This section of the five year plan merits reading since it lays out the relationship between ARHA and the City in some detail.

A few of these links have been discussed on this blog before, including the City's right to appoint members of ARHA's board and the fact that Resolution 830 mandates the number of public housing units ARHA must maintain.

But in addition to CDBG and HOME fund grants, there's yet another financial flow-through that many residents may be unaware of, although the money for once moves in a reverse direction. While real estate taxes are not levied on ARHA properties, the housing authority does make a "Payment in Lieu of Taxes" or "PILOT" to the City of Alexandria.

So what we can see is that although ARHA is not under direct control of the City, the relationship is symbiotic.