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SHRA - problematic practices

What is the SHRA?


According to their website (linked here):

“The Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency was created to ensure the ongoing development of affordable housing and to continuously fuel community redevelopment projects in the city and county of Sacramento”


Their mission, vision, and goals are listed below:

What does the SHRA do?


Essentially they are in charge of affordable housing development in Sacramento city and county.


They have four main focus areas listed on their website (see image below):

What is the SHRA’s budget?


Their proposed budget for the calendar year of 2022 is $347.1 million (see image below):


On 9/13 the Sacramento City Council heard an Oral Report on the 2022 Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency Midyear Budget


Video of the presentation is linked here


Presenter: Susana Jackson, Chief Financial Officer SHRA


Key facts:

  • HUD is main source of funding, not funded through GF so no discretion for spending

  • Largest programs (which make up 62% revenue & 69% expenses for 2022)

    • SERA (Sacramento Emergency Rental Assistance)

    • Public housing program

    • Housing choice voucher program


Not much information was given in the presentation, and not many good follow-up questions were asked.


Mayor Steinberg did make an impassioned little speech about the need for federal assistance with housing, which is fair, but also pretty upsetting coming from the guy who VERY recently was part of passing a criminalizing sidewalk ordinance (read more here) and placing Measure O - that would further criminalize homelessness - on the November ballot (read more here). Sooooo, maybe take a little responsibility Darrell. According to Steinberg, federal funding is the missing link.


The mid-year budget report was the inspiration for writing this article on the SHRA, and to that end we spoke with folx who have had direct experience working with the agency to learn more about it.

*There are undoubtedly many problematic aspects of SHRA projects, practices, and budgeting, however for the scope of this article we will be focusing on the cultural environment that exists within the SHRA workplace

Some key takeaways from community conversations:


Culture:

  • The general attitude of various supervisors in response to complaints made against them, by the populations they are serving, has been observed as: “what do they[people accessing affordable housing] expect, they live in public housing”

    • In other words: these populations don't deserve to have all their needs met because their socioeconomic status lowers their value as human beings

  • Upper management seems to feel no sense of urgency in responding to the needs of community members and residents, even though people’s lives are at stake

  • Upper management embodies a culture of elitism and toxic professionalism

    • This results in woefully inadequate communication with residents

  • Upper management has been reported to consistently speak horribly to black women residents in community meetings & be very dismissive of concerns; no follow-up to complaints is seen, even when it's staff making the complaints

  • SHRA has historically been very protective over their communities & sometimes things like parks, which are owned by the City, are run by SHRA, and therefore making improvements is very difficult

  • The SHRA also has a culture of being very protective over Executive Director La Shelle Dozier which continually gets in the way of making reforms

    • Dozier is well-loved within the agency and seen as very good at her job, but she's not an activist or an organizer, and is therefore is somewhat disconnected from on-the-ground realities of the populations served by the SHRA

    • One of the reasons the agency is so protective of her is because she has been treated very badly by the Mayor of Sacramento and by the Sacramento Board of Supervisors, which speaks to a broader problematic culture of racism, sexism, and classism

Communication:

  • People don’t understand what SHRA does & that’s because they don’t communicate well with residents or the broader population

  • Community engagement is a huge problem within the SHRA - there are supposed to be services, communication with residents, and necessary & timely upgrades but that is often not seen

    • They have been shown to complete any work on units until the residents move out - so people can live there for very long periods of time without their housing receiving any upgrades

Housing upkeep:

  • In one community SHRA did renovations & told residents that they would all come back to new apartments - but the process took so long that some didn't end up coming back, and those that were temporarily relocated were put in housing that was not ADA accessible & have problems like insects, lack of heat, lack of water

    • There was no one asking about their quality of life

Staffing:

  • The way housing is being handled/managed is SHRA’s responsibility & they have failed the public in that they have been unable to keep competent staff; turnover rate is high, so it is difficult to keep people long enough to train them to be competent

  • For staff, there is not much opportunity for growth, and there is the sense that agency won’t change

  • The hiring process for the SHRA is inaccessible & difficult to understand/navigate

  • Lots of people at the SHRA work very hard, but a major issue is that those in leadership positions are not part of, and are disconnected from, the community & populations they are serving

  • SHRA needs people that are going to stay & work & they might not be the best

  • There is an unwritten rule to not say anything against the agency after you leave, which reduces transparency and hinders reform

Structural problems:

  • What is really needed is a 24/7 hotline housed within SHRA so that people can access help/services outside regular business hours - but there's not enough resources for this

  • The SERA (Sacramento Emergency Rental Assistance) Program was managed badly - there wasn't the internal structure necessary to provide services

  • The liaison agencies that work with the SHRA are also inaccessible for residents and community members

  • The SHRA doesn't have the appropriate technology needed for their work

A very important point: If Sac City needs to listen to the voices of the impacted in regard to housing policy, then so does the SHRA!

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1 Comment


Anne Bawolski
Anne Bawolski
Oct 27, 2022

I agree with "SHRA-Problematic practices" 100 percent. I found the staff member handling my case to be unorganized,overwhelmed, and unfamiliar with my case. I responded promptly to every request for documents. As did my landlord, even though he already said he didn't want to participate. I was denied based on I am not a renter and failure to submit documents in time requested. Obviously an error on their part . I appealed, it was denied. I sent an email with specific dates of requests and dates of my response, my denial was reversed. After some time I received an email asking me to resubmit everything again. I did. As did my landlord. Once again I'm denied. The reason they …

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