As an Intern at the Bloomington Housing Authority, I learned about many housing assistance programs that support the underprivileged, which I previously did not know about. One such program is the Rental Assistance Demonstration program, which I learned about in-depth because of the ongoing renovations at the communities of Walnut Woods and Reverend E. D. Butler.
The RAD program was created to increase public housing funding to address the national $26 billion deficit for public housing maintenance. The program also gives owners of three HUD legacy programs the chance to enter long-term contracts that facilitate the financing of improvements.
I think the RAD program is excellent because it focuses on the quality of life of the tenant, and ultimately creates a significant social impact. It ensures that housing is permanently affordable to low-income households, as they all have to pay no more than 30% of their income towards housing, without compromising any of their rights from the public housing program.
When reading about the program, I was surprised at how effective it was. In fact, a housing authority in Georgia converted all its public housing units into RAD units and was able to increase its cash flow and also support the funding of a local center which serves as a community hub delivering education, food security, child enrichment, job training, and other community development services to an estimated 8,000 people annually and up to 150 children daily. It is evident that RAD is essential not only for affordable housing but also for other supportive services within the community.
Similarly, BHA has also begun converting almost all public housing properties into the RAD program, for which they were able to raise $17.8 million in funding for the preservation and renovation of 116 units at their Reverend E.D Butler and Walnut Woods Communities in Bloomington.
BHA is truly committed to improving the experience of residents, which I find very inspiring. Their units will be upgraded, and they will not have to increase their rent payments substantially. They will also have an opportunity to voice their opinions on the renovations, and will also have the choice to request a housing voucher for the private market after a year.
The RAD program ultimately provides a bright outlook for the future of affordable housing in the United States, and I’m proud to work with an organization that is actively advocating for and implementing positive changes.
— Aarohi Halbe, Marketing Intern (Summer 2020)