The county has reached a milestone in efforts to revitalize the Golden Gate Village public housing complex in Marin City, but a new problem has emerged.
The Marin Housing Authority approved Burbank Housing on Tuesday as the development partner for the project. The authority will now begin contract negotiations with Burbank, a nonprofit affordable housing developer in Santa Rosa.
“This is really a wonderful place to be at this moment,” said Marin County Supervisor Katie Rice, a member of the housing authority’s board.
However, the redevelopment framework the authority approved last month would cause a large number of Golden Gate Village residents to be classified as “overhoused” — a term for households with more space than needed for the number of residents in them. Residents who are overhoused must move to apartments with fewer bedrooms.
“We know we need to address the right-size housing situation at Golden Gate Village,” said Kimberly Carroll, the director of the housing authority. “However, no one will need to permanently move out of Golden Gate Village as it relates to any of the overhousing situations.”
Concerns about displacement among members of Golden Gate Village’s resident council helped torpedo a previous development plan that called for construction of additional affordable and market-rate housing at the complex. No new housing is planned now.
Under the redevelopment framework, the authority will use Section 18 of the U.S. Housing Act of 1937, which allows for the conversion of public housing to project-based Section 8 voucher assistance. Section 18 also permits housing authorities to partner with private investors to finance debt and access other funds to rehabilitate public housing.
Mike Andrews, a consultant hired by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to advise the Marin Housing Authority, explained the arrangement at an earlier housing authority meeting.
“Golden Gate Village would be sold to a newly created limited partnership,” Andrews said. “The housing authority would be the managing general partner of that partnership. The investor limited partner would bring equity and expect their tax stream of benefits in return.”
“The housing authority would maintain ownership of the land; they would lease the land to the limited partnership,” he said. “The limited partnership would own the buildings sitting on the housing authority’s land. By doing that, the housing authority is able to attract low-income housing tax equity.”
It is the conversion from public housing to project-based Section 8 vouchers that creates the new overhousing issue.
“The occupancy standards for public housing and the housing choice voucher program are different,” Andrews said on Tuesday.
As a result, many Golden Gate Village residents who live in three- and four-bedroom apartments would be newly classified, through no fault of their own, as being overhoused when the switch to the voucher system occurs. Carroll estimates as many as 70 households could be affected.
“I am working with HUD trying to find a solution,” she said.
This isn’t Golden Village’s only overhousing problem.
In 2021, HUD notified the Marin authority that 72 households at the complex were overhoused. Many of those households involved seniors whose bedroom needs declined as their children grew and moved out.
HUD cautioned that if the overhousing wasn’t addressed it might reduce the Marin Housing Authority’s funding for operations as well as funding for Section 8 housing voucher payments. HUD said it wanted the issue resolved before renovation at Golden Gate Village took place.
Carroll said the number of overhoused households has been as high as 87 but has fallen to between 27 and 30. She said the problem is that there just aren’t enough one- and two-bedroom apartment at Golden Gate Village to move the overhoused residents into.
Carroll said she has received permission from HUD to allow residents who are overhoused to remain in their dwellings until an appropriately-sized apartment becomes available, although she said that could take years.
Residents will have to temporarily move out of their apartments while they are being renovated, but Carroll said when the work is completed, they will be allowed to return to their apartments even if they are considered to be overhoused.
“So the good thing,” Carroll said, “is nobody’s going to be asked to leave permanently.”
Eventually, however, unless Carroll can get HUD to agree to a compromise, residents who are classified as overhoused will have to move to smaller apartments.