Your View: Council must not allow ARHA mismanagement

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Your View: Council must not allow ARHA mismanagement
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By Charles Conway, Alexandria (File photo)

To the editor:
How curious! Under a proposal by the Alfred Street Baptist Church, 22 of the existing affordable housing units adjacent to the church could be demolished so the church can expand its sanctuary.

Where will the displaced residents likely go?

From the city and ARHA’s 2008 memorandum of understanding: “Whereas, the city desires … an affordable strategy that addresses affordable housing throughout the city.”

A disgusted Braddock neighborhood now expects a higher concentration of such housing, not the area plan’s planned reduction. The 2008 MOU was written in conjunction with the city’s 2008 Glebe Park bailout.

From the city and ARHA’s 2008 MOU: “Whereas, since the 1970s, the policy of the city and ARHA has been … deconcentration by scattered site replacements….” The city is reluctant to scatter public housing. In fact, affordable housing, when combined with the existing stock of public housing, is an ever-increasing mass of concentrated mayhem. ARHA work group members and City Councilors John Chapman and Justin Wilson should hold ARHA to account.

Also from the city and ARHA’s 2008 MOU: “The goals, objectives and performance measures and overall agency management plan shall reflect ARHA’s current planned and future schedules for housing unit physical inspection and maintenance.” As someone has already asked, “Why does Chapman, a member of council, tolerate ARHA’s substandard maintenance?”

A church agreeably expands and ARHA pays cash for its $4 million office building. Dare we discuss opportunity costs, profit margins and or repeated cash shortfalls? ARHA’s January 2016 board minutes state: “The major reason the need for reserves was higher than anticipated is because there was a three-month delay in the Central Office Cost Center collecting office rents for 401 Wythe St.”

City Councilor Paul Smedberg may feel regret, but his February 20 votes were spot on. His colleagues are driven by cause, not due diligence. We agree the discussion is about people, not buildings only. That said, taxpayers are getting the shaft.

Both the Braddock Road Small Area Plan and the Braddock East Plan should be implemented as approved in 2008.

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