The Richmond Housing Authority board voted to move in a direction that would get the city out of managing the Section 8 voucher program and remove the housing authority from managing city public housing.

The decision means selling off the city’s six public housing developments, which include the now-empty Hacienda Complex, which will take about two or three years, staffers told the board.

The Richmond Housing Authority board consists of the city’s seven City Council members and two members of the Housing Commission, both of whom must be public housing tenants.

“Essentially, the Richmond Housing Authority is supported by HUD, and HUD’s support has been diminishing year after year. The city has had to use its general fund to prop up the Housing Authority,” which has borrowed $7 million from the city, Richmond Mayor Tom Butt said in an interview.

“This is a death spiral. It’s unsustainable,” Butt said.

This decision is a first step in setting a direction, but the board will need to make a raft of decisions over the next 14 months to make it happen.

Who would take over the program has yet to be determined — the city staff report on the topic mentioned the Contra Costa County Housing Authority as a possibility, but noted there have been no discussions between the two agencies about a transfer.

The action was taken as the Richmond Housing Authority faces continued fiscal and administrative challenges in managing its public housing and Section 8 programs.

Some, but not all, of those challenges are attributed to years of inadequate funding from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. The housing authority has, for years, drawn complaints about deferred maintenance at its housing complexes.

Every resident of the city’s Hacienda Complex was moved out of the building in 2015 after news reports surfaced about the complex on Roosevelt Avenue, including roach infestations, leaky roofs and inadequate disability accommodations.

Richmond administers approximately 2,000 Section 8 housing vouchers, with which very-low-income people and households can use to rent private-stock housing.

Story originally published by Bay City News.