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Raleigh Housing Authority looking for alternative sources of income

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RALEIGH, N.C. -

The Raleigh Housing Authority is brainstorming new ideas to make up for steep federal budget cuts across the board that will affect more than 13,000 people in the city.

Spend a few minutes with Allison Hapgood of the Raleigh Housing Authority and it's clear she's frustrated with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

"We had been accumulating resources for a lot of years. Then in 2011, HUD changes its previous 60-year history and said they can recapture reserves so that threw everything into a tailspin," said Hapgood.

Since then, RHA has been scrambling to find alternative sources of funding.

One idea it currently has is to sell 60 units of their popular downtown housing unit in Capitol Park to their non-profit for $300,000, which is far below market value.

In turn, they'll use that money to rebuild a different housing unit in Walnut Terrace.

"We cleared a site called Walnut Terrace. It was an old barrack style public housing unit that had 300 units. So, here we are with a 24, or 27 acre site with no housing," Hapgood said.

"That deserves more debate and more discussion," said Bill Rowe with the N.C. Justice Center.

Rowe said he's worried about the implications of the sale. Although current residents won't have to move out, he's concerned that once their units are sold, rents will be charged at market value and residents will opt out with their vouchers and be forced to move elsewhere.

"There are very few landlords who accept vouchers and they're mostly in some of the most segregated areas of the community by either race or income," said Rowe.

Hapgood believes that won't happen.

"We would issue them a tenant based voucher. They would continue to pay 30 percent of their income. They can stay at Capitol Park as long as they want."

RHA's 5-year agenda that includes the plans for the sale has been approved by Raleigh City Council. But currently the sale is on hold. Hapgood said HUD is in the process of changing its policies on demolition and sales.

"Our agency plan had to be submitted by Jan. 16.  On Jan. 27, RHA had a conference call with HUD staff regarding the disposition of Capitol Park.  We learned in that conversation that HUD was rewriting the regulations relating to demolition and disposition requests.  There will be changes made to the process and at this time neither HUD nor housing authorities know what those changes will be.  There is also no time line for getting the rules re-written.  It could be six months or five years.  Based on this information, RHA has decided to indefinitely suspend its plan to seek disposition approval of Capitol Park.  In the meantime it will continue to operate just as it has since it opened."

The housing authority says it want to hear more from the public on this issue. To learn how you can get involved go to their website.

Eileen Park

Eileen joined WNCN after years of working as a foreign correspondent. During her time off, she enjoys relaxing with her dogs, reading, and exploring the Triangle. More>>

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