Huntsville Housing Authority Requests Guidance From Department of Housing and Urban Development Over SB 205
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – The Huntsville Housing Authority appealed to a greater power today, seeking advice on a controversial Alabama state law.
SB 205 creates requirements for the H.H.A. and the way it conducts its business.
The law only applies to Huntsville.
SB 205 requires the H.H.A. to announce all of its property purchases three weeks ahead of time via newspaper.
It also demands all eminent domain uses get approved by the Huntsville City Council.
But the H.H.A. believes the first of those two conditions could destroy its ability to provide fair housing.
The Huntsville Housing Authority commissioners gathered, handled one brief request, then disappeared behind the closed doors of an executive session for over an hour.
When they returned, they brought a single, simple resolution with them.
H.H.A. Commission Chair Phillip Redrick says, “The resolution is to ask HUD for guidance on how we should proceed in implementing SB 205, the law passed by state legislature in the last session regarding the housing authority’s actions regarding acquisitions of properties in the city of Huntsville.”
The housing authority worries the state law’s requirement to announce all purchases by newspaper three weeks in advance impedes its federal mandate to provide fair housing.
Redrick wonders, “We have the state law, and we have the federal law. Now which do we follow, the federal law or the state law?”
He argues prior announcements have backfired.
Redrick explains, “We were attempting to buy property recently and there was opposition to the property, and the seller withdrew the property from being purchased.”
The housing authority says if sellers keep pulling out due to public scrutiny, it won’t be able to provide fair housing.
So the commissioners are asking the Department of Housing and Urban Development for guidance.
A lot hangs in the balance.
According to Redrick, “You’re talking about millions of dollars statewide. I mean, millions of dollars are at stake if this issue is not cleared up.”
Obviously the Huntsville Housing Authority feels the challenge of SB 205 puts the city at risk.
It believes the requirement to publish proposed purchases in a newspaper three weeks in advance hurts its ability to conduct business.
Redrick says, “We had a study commissioned by us, the city had one too, to look at the impediments to fair housing. One of our impediments that was noted by our consultant that helped us with the study mentioned SB 205.”
The H.H.A. worries the impediment could open up the city and the housing authority to Judgements from a much mightier gavel, as the federal government could sue both if they aren’t promoting fair housing with its federal dollars.
That’s why the H.H.A. says it is being proactive about SB 205.
Outside of these new requirements, the commissioners feel confident.
Redrick explains, “As long as the city of Huntsville demonstrates to the HUD, the federal government, that it’s committed to fair housing and they receive federal funds to promote those, I don’t see them having a problem.”
The H.H.A. says SB 205 is an unnecessary burden.
Redrick discounts the notion it’s needed to create transparency.
He adds, “Our board meetings are public. They are announced before they are held. All votqw1es are taken in public, regarding the actions that we take. Our meetings are placed on our website for people to view. They have access to our minutes. So where’s the transparency problem? I don’t see it.”
The H.H.A. feels SB 205 creates more dangers than it prevents.