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.