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Section 8 Update

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    Posted: Jan 12 2017 at 8:48am

Middletown City Manager Douglas Adkins

www.cityofmiddletown.org

 

Section 8 Update

JANUARY 11, 20174 COMMENTS

 

Good morning.  We’ve talked over the years about what impact our Section 8 subsidized housing had on living conditions and quality of life.  I wanted to talk a little bit about where we are, how we got here, and what to expect moving forward.

Over my years at the city, there have been a lot of incorrect facts out there on how we came to have so much Section 8.  I could spend hours talking about this, but you probably have better things to do today than listen to me talk forever about Section 8.  So here’s the quick and easy (and oversimplified) Section 8 lesson for today…

Section 8 is a program designed by the U.S. Dept of Housing and Urban Development to help low income families afford quality housing.   The concept was designed to work like this:  A low income family finds quality affordable housing wherever they wish.  Under the income guidelines, the low income family can afford $400 rent per month.  The cost of quality affordable housing in the area is $1,000 per month.  The voucher pays the remaining $600 each month so that the low income family can live in good housing.

We do and have had poverty in Middletown.  For a city our size, to compare with average cities in Ohio, the City of Middletown would have somewhere between around 800 Section 8 vouchers operating in the city, helping low income, elderly fixed-income, and disabled residents to maintain quality housing options.

Middletown Public Housing Agency was started in 1978.  Up until 1999, the city had less than 800 Section 8 vouchers in the MPHA program.   From 1999-2003, the city added almost 900 new vouchers to the program, taking the program up to 1662 total vouchers.  This gave us the highest ratio of subsidized housing units in the State of Ohio.

People have asked over and over how that happened. I honestly don’t know all of the details, but  I can tell you that HUD offered additional vouchers during that time period and the paperwork requesting those vouchers for Middletown was signed by Consoc, our MPHA administrator at the time.  I have found no record of a council vote authorizing the increase, and there is no direct documentation that I have seen as to the process that was used to ramp up the program.

People have blamed my predecessor for a lot of this problem.  I can tell you with certainty that Judy Gilleland not only didn’t ramp up the program, but she also was the City Manager who sent me to HUD to start the process of reducing subsidized housing in Middletown.  The additional vouchers came to the city in batches from 1999-2003.  Judy came to the city in 2008, well after the ramp up.  I started here as Prosecutor in 2005.

Not one person in administration, staff or City Council that was in charge when this happened is still with the city government in any way.  You can be mad at the city for allowing this to happen, but no one that is here had anything whatsoever to do with the increase in Section 8.

With the huge sudden increase in Section 8 vouchers, the system became warped in Middletown for a long time.  Instead of providing good quality affordable housing as designed by the Section 8 program, in many cases, a select number of investors bought up lower quality, older housing, and Section 8 in Middletown often became housing that was so low quality that only the extremely poor would choose to live there because they didn’t have other options.  Landlords became rich and others joined in to make a profit.

That’s not a slam on landlords.  We had over 100 landlords on the Section 8 program when MPHA was in existence.  Only a handful did not maintain their properties.  The ramp up was legal and ethical as far as the landlords were concerned.  There were places for 900 new low income families in Middletown and the landlords responded to the need we created for additional rental housing.

In 2010, Judy Gilleland asked me to start talking to HUD about reducing our Section 8 presence in the city.   In 2012, I put together a 100+ page analysis of the city including the impact the high saturation of subsidized housing had on the city.  If you are really bored and have about two hours, you can read the 2012 report here:

http://www.cityofmiddletown.org/docs/commsvc/section8_analysis_2012_1023.pdf

After about three years of discussion with HUD, the decision was mutually made to shut down MPHA and distribute our vouchers to Butler and Warren County Metropolitan Housing Authorities.

We agreed to this because a large amount of historical data shows that Section 8 voucher holders (extremely low income families) typically stay within a short distance of where they live now.  The data showed that poor families often rely on family members for babysitting, transportation, etc., and that moving to a new community, while providing better housing, took them away from what limited support system they had to take care of day care, etc.

A certain number of vouchers are turned in to HUD each year.  Participants get jobs and don’t need the program.  People die.  People don’t obey the rules and get kicked off the program.  The data strongly showed that if we transferred the program to Lebanon and Hamilton, as the Middletown Section 8 vouchers turned over for legitimate reasons over time, we would slowly see the dispersion of Section 8 families to other parts of southwest Ohio and work our way back to a more reasonable distribution of subsidized housing in the city.

At the height of MPHA, the city had just over 1,700 vouchers operating in the City of Middletown.  By December 2016, that number is down to around 950 vouchers.  The expected dispersion happened as predicted.  As time goes on, we should continue to see reductions in Section 8 in the city.

I was never one to bash Section 8 as a program or to bash its participants.  Like all situations, a small minority of landlords and poor quality Section 8 tenants tainted the program.  The big problem in my eyes was the volume, not the participants.  Most landlords were just trying to legitimately make a profit.  Most Section 8 participants were just trying to find quality housing for their family.

So now we’ve reduced Section 8 by about 45% to date.  Here’s the lingering problem:  we have shifted the balance of homeownership and single family rentals over time to where we have neighborhoods that approach 80-90% rentals.  That’s bad for the city.  Second, we have a large amount of 70+ year old, smaller housing that is reaching the end of its useful life.   What has taken place is that instead of having a Section 8 family in a $15,000 house, we have an extremely poor non-subsidized family living in the $15,000 house.

The reduction in vouchers hasn’t changed our poverty rates. It hasn’t changed our crime levels because most Section 8 households were not causing crime.  The ones that did cause crime were removed from the Section 8 program.   During my time running MPHA, we removed about 600 families from the program for rule violations or criminal activity.  If you were a Section 8 problem and you broke the rules, you were removed.

The real problem is the abundance of worn out housing stock in Middletown at the end of its useful life.   We have too much older, worn out, smaller, lower value housing units than surrounding communities in Southwest Ohio.  With the reduction in vouchers, we have too much undesirable rental housing stock in the city.

What is done is done.  As I’ve said before, I got the keys to the city in 2014 and I have to fix us from where we are.   I’m looking forward not back.

The housing study being completed is going to recommend large changes over time in our housing stock to become more competitive in the area.   The recommendations would change our poverty rates over time and raise property values.   The changes are going to require difficult decisions and we’ll need to carefully think through what changes make sense for the city and thoughtfully consider and minimize the impact on low income and minority families.  I’m going to need help from all sectors of the city to get this right.

It’s past time to move forward and fix our neighborhoods.   As I get the data from the housing study, I’ll be rolling it out publicly and I need and want your comments and ideas.  Get in the game.  It’s your city.  Let’s do it right.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote VietVet Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 12 2017 at 11:36am
"From 1999-2003, the city added almost 900 new vouchers to the program, taking the program up to 1662 total vouchers."

"I have found no record of a council vote authorizing the increase, and there is no direct documentation that I have seen as to the process that was used to ramp up the program"


Vivian, MikeP, spiderjohn....research team....

Do you remember dialogue during this time (1999-2003) between the council at that time, the city manager at that time and CONSOC as to the city being totally aware that the vouchers were going from an acceptable 700 to 1662 and didn't council approve this increase?

Just seems to me that the voucher increase was discussed in council meetings and that council voted to fire Consoc for poor performance which led to the formation of the MPHA taking over administration of the program. Might be wrong here.

Or....it might have been discussed with council when Adkins was working for Gilleland in the Revitalization Director slot. Can't remember and not sure about this at all.

Clarification? Gotta be something within these pages to address this, right?
I'm so proud of my hometown and what it has become. Recall 'em all. Let's start over.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote VietVet Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 12 2017 at 12:47pm
Research starting points?...Under City Council heading...

Page                      Topic

5                      HUD Review
8                      HUD Info
10                     HUD
13                     Candidate Debates-Section 8
21                     Public Comments MPHA
                      CONSOC on the way out?
22                     Sect 8 Mtg Tonight
23                     Sect 8 Report- 6/10
24                     A Lack of Understanding of Impact Sec 8
25                     The Sect 8 Beast
33                     Is Sec 8 Going To Be Reduced
35                     Housing Code Enforcement
                      CONSOC Contract- 5/5/09
36                     Midd Jour Finally Gets It
37                     When Sec 8 Ever......
38                     Sec 8 Council- Keep As Is   

Didn't look at all the council mtg threads posted
I'm so proud of my hometown and what it has become. Recall 'em all. Let's start over.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Analytical Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 12 2017 at 1:03pm
So, the number of HUD Housing Choice (Section 8) Vouchers in Middletown has dropped from 1660+ to 700+ since the transfer of the program to Butler Metro Housing Authority and Warren County Housing Authority over the past 18 months or so?  Are we to understand that this 45% reduction took place following HUD's approval of the administrative change?  Was there ever any public notification of HUD's approval to reduce 900+ vouchers?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Douglas Adkins Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 12 2017 at 1:07pm
The number of vouchers remains the same. They are now managed by Butler and Warren metropolitan housing. The reduction is in the number of vouchers being used within the City limits of Middletown.

Voucher holders choose where to utilize their voucher. That's not a HUD choice or a Middletown choice.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Analytical Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 12 2017 at 1:15pm
Viet Vet -

Former city staff Ron Olson, Neil Barille and Angela Tucker played principal roles in the escalation of subsidized rental housing in Middletown.  I fail to understand why they (apparently) were not contacted to ascertain what took place from 2000-2003.  And, it seems bizarre that city council minutes do not reflect proper approvals of these matters.  I do recall being shown documents by a subordinate where former Community Development Division staff signed off on these requests.  Of course, you remember how I was ultimately forced out of city employment because I knew too much about wasteful/imprudent uses of HUD funds prior to my arrival in January 2007.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Analytical Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 12 2017 at 1:46pm
Doug, so only 950 of the 1660+ voucher holders now live in Middletown?  It was much, much higher than that when I was directed to obtain a database of participating landlords with attendant property addresses from CONSOC for Marty Kohler, Les Landen and Judy back in early 2008.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Analytical Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 12 2017 at 2:09pm
Doug, I noted with great interest the recent MJ newspaper article where you said, "So now we’ve reduced Section 8 by about 45% to date."

First of all, I never recall anyone ever saying that only 950 of the HCV recipients actually lived in Middletown.  As I've noted elsewhere, this was clearly not the case as recently as 2008.

Since you've informed us this (apparently) previously unknown statistic, I'd like to know what policies and procedures that you have used to accomplish this?  Please tell.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote VietVet Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 12 2017 at 3:36pm
"So, the number of HUD Housing Choice (Section 8) Vouchers in Middletown has dropped from 1660+ to 700+ since the transfer of the program to Butler Metro Housing Authority and Warren County Housing Authority over the past 18 months or so?"

This surprises me based on the talk when the BMHA took over. I seem to remember that there was no way that Middletown could unload 900+ of the 1662 to get to the proper 700ish at the time as it would be too difficult to find any other Butler Cty towns to take those 900+. I thought Middletown would have to live with the 1662. Did they end up forcing other communities to take the 900 or was it voluntary? Can't see any community (except Middletown of course) actually wanting any vouchers at all, much less 900.
I'm so proud of my hometown and what it has become. Recall 'em all. Let's start over.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Douglas Adkins Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 12 2017 at 3:54pm
If you get a chance, reread the entire blog post. At the height of MPHA, the city housed more than 1,700 vouchers. We went over our 1662 allocation because voucher holders get to choose where they live. The City government doesn't control that. People from other jurisdictions used their voucher in Middletown to rise our numbers up over our direct allocation.

The 950 number used in the blog post came from asking Butler and Warren metro to run their current numbers of voucher holders living within Middletown.

The rest have voluntarily chosen to relocate out of Middletown on their own or new voucher holders have chosen other locations to live rather than Middletown.

No policies and no procedures on the part of the City. We anticipated this result when we turned the program over to Butler and Warren and the results have been as expected. We are out of the subsidized housing business.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Analytical Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 12 2017 at 5:20pm
A letter of appreciation should be sent to Butler and Warren for providing ACCURATE data regarding the Section 8 presence in Middletown.  After all of the volumes of rhetoric and pontificating from One Donham Plaza since March 2009, it's good that an effort was FINALLY made to verify those Middletown residents currently possessing vouchers compared to what was the case in 2008.  Lastly, how many voucher holders of other jurisdictions now live in Middletown?  That would also be a good piece of information to have.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote What A City Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 13 2017 at 5:54am
Mr. Adkins:
"voucher holders get to choose where they live. The City government doesn't control that. People from other jurisdictions used their voucher in Middletown"

Just curious Mr. Adkins. Given your statement above that voucher holders could choose anywhere they wanted to live, why do you think those voucher holders chose Middletown over towns that offer much more than Middletown does?

Other cities have better shopping, better schools, better housing quality, better city operation perhaps, lower taxes. less crime........why chose Middletown? Is there something we don't know that was offered to live here?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Analytical Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 13 2017 at 6:34am
In summary, how INEXCUSABLE it is that so many city staff work hours, consultant legal fees, etc., etc. were utilized to "take on" HUD to reduce Section 8 rental units from 1660+ to a more equitable figure closer to 800.  The fact that key city staff did all of this (at a still undisclosed cost) only to now say that there really are only 950 vouchers in the city.  What a royal and costly screw up!  What bad publicity for an already impacted Middletown!  Which way is it city staff/leaders?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Middletown29 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 13 2017 at 7:30am
Isn't this screw up by the City old news by now.
Looks like they now have situation under control and bad actors are longer longer around.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote What A City Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 13 2017 at 8:17am
Originally posted by Middletown29 Middletown29 wrote:

Isn't this screw up by the City old news by now.
Looks like they now have situation under control and bad actors are longer longer around.


Perhaps letting this blow over is the right thing to do 29, but we have had so many city screw-ups the past 30 years that it is beyond letting it go. It is the convenient thing to suggest that the clusters in the city building who created this voucher overabundance are all now gone and we should start anew from this point on. Easy to do that way, but if something isn't done to fix this repeat behavior from our city leaders, it will continue with just a shoulder shrug and all is well mentality. All is not well in this city and this damaged town was created by past and current occupiers of the city building. THEY have run the city into the ground and now Adkins is trying to repair the ailing ghetto they have created. Where is the ACCOUNTABILITY to the citizens if we continue to forgive their clusters? Right now, they constantly screw up and we just let it ride without a whimper (with the exception of the criticism dealt out on this forum). Major apathy from the people doesn't help the cause either. City leaders have done so poorly that a large percentage of people living here no longer care what happens to the town.

Simply put, we don't hold our city government accountable. We have a watchdog in place with this forum but we stop there and don't take our issues to the meetings. Why? Partly because when you go to their meetings, they ignore your message of dissatisfaction, cutting you off at the three minute time limit and only listen to their friends (who can talk as long as they wish) Councils and the city managers in the last 40 years have never paid any attention to the people they represent. They do as they please and (Mulligan said this himself), if you don't like it live somewhere else. That demonstrates the man has no class and chooses to use a dictatorial attitude toward the people. Basically a pompous --- who's too big for his britches, a trait that a lot of them have. JMO
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote over the hill Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 13 2017 at 8:51am
Well here we go again: Spin city. Here's to the man that knows how to spin it the best. JMO
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Analytical Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 13 2017 at 9:12am
RECENT COMMENTS of Mr. A. published in the MJ and posted on this blog are what's making this sordid mess a topic of conversation once again!  It's not a rehash of the past!

We're now told that Middletown really doesn't have the overabundance of Section 8 rentals after all in contrast to what he has been saying since 2009.  As Vivian Moon would say, that puzzles her three little gray cells.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote over the hill Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 13 2017 at 10:57am
If we don't have the over abundance of Sec 8 vouchers then what's the problem with the older housing stock if they pass inspections and health regulations? Again it seems slanted towards rental stock or did I miss something.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vivian Moon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 13 2017 at 11:41am
Adkins: "At the height of MPHA, the city had just over 1,700 vouchers operating in the City of Middletown.  By December 2016, that number is down to around 950 vouchers.  The expected dispersion happened as predicted.  As time goes on, we should continue to see reductions in Section 8 in the city."

This is a very misleading statement for the general public to understand in my opinion.  The 1,662 vouchers managed by MPHA included Section 8 vouchers located in both Butler County and Warren County.  
I believe that all Section 8 housing located East of Dixie Hwy., are now included in the total Section 8 vouchers for Warren County.

Therefore the number of Section 8 vouchers have not really been reduced…but are now counted and split into two different areas.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Douglas Adkins Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 13 2017 at 12:02pm
Vivian,

When MPHA was running, we had 1,662+ vouchers living within the city limits of Middletown. The entire program was shut down and split between Warren and Butler. The 950 I've referred to is the number of vouchers living within the city limits in Middletown at this time as reported by both Warren and Butler added together.   Apples to apples.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vivian Moon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 13 2017 at 12:11pm
Doug
Please tell me where the CITY LIMITS of Middletown extend to on the East SIde?
Are the Robin Springs Apts., 120 units within the city limits of Middletown? I know they are included in the Section 8 count for Warren County.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Douglas Adkins Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 13 2017 at 12:15pm
Let me see if I can find a map that lays it out, but yes, Robin Springs is part of the Warren County count.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Analytical Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 13 2017 at 12:26pm
Jurisdictional boundaries for both Butler and Warren County subsidized rental housing administration is not the issue.  Please explain how the number of current vouchers SITUATED WITHIN MIDDLETOWN CITY LIMITS has mysteriously dropped from your reported 1,660+ over the years to 950 in the past 18-24 months?  Since you recently reported the 950 unit figure, why was it EVER NECESSARY to undertake such a time-consuming and costly city dispute with HUD over the last number of years using 1,660+ as the benchmark?  Which is it?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote swohio75 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 13 2017 at 1:37pm
A Consolidated Plan from 2010 shows nearly 600 units in privately‐owned properties that qualify for low income housing tax credits.  Robin Springs at the time was listed with 120 units and all 120 units were LI.

Property owners came before City Council several years ago seeking approval for these Tax Credits as part of their complex remodeling. It's my understanding Council approval is required for these tax credits to be approved at the state or federal level

That doesn't mean all 120 units are filled with Section 8 Voucher holders.  It means that maximum income restrictions apply based on the # of bedrooms/# of residents in a unit.  

I vaguely recall Council adopting a formal/informal policy for staff that Council would not approve Income Tax Credits for new multi-family construction.  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vivian Moon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 14 2017 at 7:49am

Adkins: The 950 number used in the blog post came from asking Butler and Warren metro to run their current numbers of voucher holders living within Middletown.

 

Doug
I must request proof and hard number research of your claim that Middletown has reduced Section 8 vouchers from 1662 to 950 living within Middletown city limits. You are stating as fact that 700 voucher holders have moved from the city limits of Middletown over the past several years.
Doug, all HUD research clearly shows that once a family gets a Section 8 voucher, very few families move away from the area. For you to state that 700 families have moved away from Middletown over the past several years is simply unheard of in this program. The only way a large number of vouchers move from an area to my knowledge is because of the demo of a large apartment complex.

Therefore your research and your claim of 950 current vouchers must be incorrect.
Please provide us with written proof of this 700 reduction of Section 8 vouchers within the city limits of Middletown.


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