A couple days ago, big news was that the Housing Authority of the City of Asheville was going to change its management model. It would go from Section 9 to Section 8, and some citizens were mad about a new requirement that their children must stay in school or get a GED while living in subsidized housing.

Trying to learn more, I found a problem not unusual online. Available were two kinds of materials: those that said the program would create the usual peace, love, and health; and those that referenced an alphabet soup of programs cross-referencing multiple acts and vice versa. Unable to find a middle ground, I pulled the old college trick of asking for help.

HACA’s COO David Nash and CEO Gene Bell honored me with a chunk of time to explain the transition is going to allow the authority to rely on a more stable source of federal funding. Initially anyway, they do not anticipate the creation of another layer of management. A common misconception was that changing to Section 8 would cause units of public housing to be sold as condominiums that accepted vouchers for rent. Switching programs would allow the authority to maintain a reserve fund and use property as collateral, but Nash assures there are no near-term goals to go into debt.

People already in public housing will be grandfathered-in. Only about 45 tenants on the high end of the sliding scale are expected to see a change in rent, but Nash said the caps were going up regardless of whether HACA made the change or not. As Bell framed it, HACA is trying to become less dependent on federal revenue streams and make tenants shoulder more of the burden. The local self-sufficiency requirements have yet to be defined.