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King County Housing Authority Earns High Marks from HUD

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SEATTLE–The King County Housing Authority (KCHA) has received a score of 97.5 out of a possible 100 points in an evaluation of the physical condition of its public housing portfolio by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The rigorous evaluation is conducted by third-party inspectors and is intended to ensure that federally assisted families live in well-maintained, safe housing. KCHA’s score places its portfolio among the best maintained public housing in the country. The average individual property Real Estate Assessment Center score nationally in 2014 was 82.6 points.

With the recent score, KCHA maintains its overall “high performer” designation, HUD’s top performance rating for housing authorities. HUD has named KCHA a high-performing agency every year since it began evaluating public housing authorities in 1992.

The high quality of repairs and maintenance of KCHA’s public housing was achieved despite the chronic underfunding of public housing over the past decade. Most recently, between 2012 and 2014, KCHA received $2.96 million less in federal funding than HUD calculated was necessary to responsibly operate this housing. Additional budget cuts recently approved by the U.S. House of Representatives for next year will pose additional challenges for assuring the safety of the approximately 4,200 people who depend on public housing for a home in King County. Approximately, 28 percent of these residents are elderly, 29 percent are disabled and 28 percent are children.

“Budget and economic realities in recent years have forced federal, state and local agencies to find ways to do more with less,” said HUD Northwest Regional Administrator Bill Block. “Thanks to the creativity of the King County Housing Authority’s staff as well as the regulatory flexibility we have provided it under the Moving to Work (MTW) program, the Authority has been able to maintain an outstanding record of preserving and improving the quality of its physical assets despite the considerable financial pressures. We congratulate them on a job well and creatively done.”

MTW is a program that allows a handful of high-performing public housing authorities to test new approaches, outside of rigid HUD rules, for operating its programs and assisting low-income families. With the administrative and regulatory flexibility afforded by MTW, KCHA has achieved operational efficiencies and cost reductions that have allowed it to make significant capital improvements to its public housing inventory. Without this flexibility much of KCHA’s portfolio would have been unable to meet basic quality standards.

“We are committed to providing the best possible housing for the residents and communities we serve. This score reflects the hard work of the housing authority staff and the close partnership between residents and KCHA,” said Doug Barnes, KCHA board chair. “We are especially proud that we have been able to sustain this level of excellence in the face of ongoing federal funding cutbacks. Were it not for our status as a Moving to Work agency, this feat would have been very difficult to accomplish.”

The housing authority owns and operates about 2,125 public housing units in King County. It owns or manages an additional 6,800 units of affordable housing and provides more than 11,600 households with rental assistance to enable them to rent housing from private landlords.

Scores of public housing inspected in the 2014-2015 inspection cycle by city. Points scored are in parentheses.

Auburn

Burndale Homes 50 units (99)
Firwood Circle 50 units (99)
Plaza Seventeen 70 units (98)
Wayland Arms/Gustaves Manor 102 units (99)

Bellevue

College Place/Eastside Terrace 101 units (99)

Boulevard Park

Boulevard Manor 70 units (99)

Burien

Yardley Arms/Munro Manor 127 units (95)

Federal Way

Southridge House 80 units (100)

Kent

Cascade Apartments 108 units (99)
Mardi Gras 61 units (99)
Valli Kee 115 units (99)

Kirkland

Casa Juanita 80 units (95)
Kirkland Place 9 units (99)

Olympia

Casa Madrona 70 units (100)

Redmond

Forest Glen 40 units (96)

Shoreline

Ballinger Homes/Pepper Tree 136 units (94)
Briarwood/Lake House 140 units (90)
Northridge II 140 units (97)
Paramount House 70 units (98)

Tukwila

Riverton Terrace/Brittany Park/

Pacific Court 105 units (92)

White Center

Nia Apartments 40 units (99)
Eastbridge (at Greenbridge) 13 units (97)
Salmon Creek (at Greenbridge) 50 units (99)
Seola Crossing (at Greenbridge) 77 units (99)

Average score: 97.5