Editorial: Housing agency merger deserves public support
by
Editorial Board, SA Express-News
July 28, 2005

Kudos to county officials for moving forward with plans to consolidate the area's problem-plagued housing authorities.

Some elected and appointed officials are still lukewarm to the idea of merging the operations of the Bexar County Housing Authority with the San Antonio Housing Authority, but Commissioners Court has approved the move.

As expected, appointed board members, developers who do business with the county housing agency and some staff members are leery of the idea because of the shift in power it will bring, Express-News staff writer Elizabeth Allen reported.

Bexar County Housing Authority board member Bob Grau, who has expressed reluctance to the merger, told county commissioners there would be no cost savings to the county because the operating funds come from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Perhaps the savings will not be reflected in the county's budget, but steps taken to reduce the bureaucracy and eliminate the duplication of services will save money and benefit the federal taxpayers who foot those costs.

Consolidating the functions of the county and city housing authorities makes sense. We see no reason to have two completely different agencies running subsidized housing programs funded by the same federal agency. The goal should be to streamline operations and make them more efficient.

SAHA handles more than 11,500 vouchers for Section 8 housing and owns 6,300 housing units. The Bexar County Housing Authority manages about 1,400 Section 8 vouchers and owns 300 housing units. Each has a board of directors.

Taxpayer money, whether it comes from the city, county or federal government, should not be used to protect outdated fiefdoms.

We urge the city to move forward to make the merger of the housing agencies a reality.

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