Marietta’s Section 8 consolidation is 'the right thing to do'
May 13, 2014 10:00 PM | 2715 views | 2 2 comments | 39 39 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Does the City of Marietta need to be operating two identical federally subsidized voucher programs under essentially the same roof? And should city taxpayers be paying extra for such duplication of services?

The answers to those questions are “no” and “no.”

City Councilman Andy Morris has proposed consolidating the Section 8 federal housing voucher programs now run separately by the city and the Marietta Housing Authority. Morris is proposing folding the city’s smaller program, which administers about 950 vouchers, into the Housing Authority, which manages about 2,500 such vouchers. The city would still have a say in the operation of the program because the Authority board is appointed by the mayor.

Morris argues convincingly combining the two programs would increase efficiency, lower administrative costs and give clients access to more programs designed to encourage home ownership.

If the council votes tonight in favor of the consolidation, the next step will be for the city to notify the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development of its intentions. If HUD agrees, the city and housing authority would then prepare the necessary legal documents for the merger. The council is hoping to officially have the transfer take effect as of Jan. 1.

“I’m a strong proponent of it,” Mayor Steve Tumlin told the MDJ. “When we just have three blocks away a duplication of services, it’s the thing to do.”

Councilman Anthony Coleman says he sees no benefit from the move and argues it would cost nine city employees their jobs. But the other six council members favor it. Moreover, the city government is not supposed to be a jobs program. If it can be operated on a leaner and less expensive basis, that is how it should be run.

Marietta isn’t going out on a proverbial limb with the consolidation. In fact, the opposite is closer to the truth.

More than 210 local-level housing authorities have handed their Section 8 duties back to HUD or consolidated with other housing authorities since 2003, according to Morris. In fact, Marietta is the only city in Georgia still taking a dual-entity approach.

“That speaks volumes for me,” Tumlin said.

And so it should to local taxpayers as well.

Comments
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Diamond Jim
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May 15, 2014
Consolidation will cost 9 city employees their jobs. So? People get laid off all the time in the private sector, but somehow government employees are supposed to be immune? Nope. That's not the way it works---except at the Federal level, of course, where phasing out "Gubmint" jobs is viewed by pandering lawmakers as an Armageddon-like crisis which has to be dealt with before election day!

No question vouchers are a better choice than the public-housing projects recently phased out and torn down, but could someone please explain how Section 8 voucher programs move people toward home ownership?
Bob Loblaw
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May 17, 2014
In some cities/states, you can use the voucher toward paying a mortgage. Some places require that you take financial literacy/homeowner workshops before doing so. Then they will pay a portion of your mortgage directly to the bank for a predetermined period.

In my experience, most voucher recipients do not take advantage of this option, but the ones I have seen have incredible success stories and have turned their lives around.
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