To the editor:
As a frequent attendee of the Affordable Housing Advisory Board (AHAB) meetings, I’d like to offer a different perspective on the composition of the board. First, the board functions very well as is. The three additional seats were added not because of recusals, but because the board wanted those major stakeholders at the table. Second, there are two citizen positions on the board: one for the general public and one for a current or former consumer of public housing. Third, multiple opportunities for public engagement exist in the process. And fourth, AHAB does not make any decisions but only recommendations to the City Commission, which is directly accountable to the public.
Sales tax dollars will not be available to give out until late 2019 or early 2020. I invite those raising concerns to observe the board in action, and the city to record the meetings for public viewing, before determining whether any changes are needed. There is ample time to do so. Let’s not rush to solve a problem that, in my opinion as an educated observer, does not exist.
Other communities have squandered public trust fund dollars because their board lacks experienced leaders in affordable housing. Our local nonprofit experts know how to get the biggest bang for the public buck by leveraging grants, in-kind donations and private funds. In 2016, the city built a project that houses 22 people for just $100,000. We should take great care in making any changes to a board that has such evidence of success.