Golden Gate Village Residents Push for Representation on Housing Board

For more than a decade, the Marin County Board of Supervisors has reappointed the same two men, term after term, to serve on a commission tasked with overseeing public housing and housing vouchers within the county.

With both seats on the Marin Housing Authority’s Board of Commissioners now open again for a two-year term, many in the community are calling for a changing of the guard.

The seven-person commission is comprised of the five members of the Board of Supervisors and two members who must either reside in public housing or hold a housing choice voucher—formerly called section 8.

Residents and supporters of Golden Gate Village in Marin City, the largest public housing development in the county, are urging the supervisors to select two new members who will represent the interests of public housing tenants.

Neither of the appointed incumbent members, Rob Simon and Homer Hall, reside in public housing. Simon and Hall both hold vouchers and live in private rentals.

Dozens of people typically submit applications for the two appointed seats. Still, the supervisors have overlooked the applicants from public housing, instead continually reappointing Simon, who has sat on the commission since 2009, and Hall, who has served since 2011. Last year, the supervisors unanimously voted for the two men, failing to even interview other candidates.

“It begins to look like lifetime appointments,” Golden Gate Village volunteer Barbara Bogard said.

Members of the commission determine policy regarding public housing and other programs run by the Marin Housing Authority. The two open seats will hold influence over the controversial planned redevelopment of the 60-year-old Golden Gate Village, which houses approximately 700 residents.

Rather than performing vital repairs to the 300 units in Golden Gate Village, the Marin Housing Authority proposes to hire a private developer based in New Jersey, The Michaels Organization, to demolish 16 existing units and replace them with two new high-rise towers containing 156 units. The Marin Housing Authority and its commissioners have ignored the residents’ revitalization plan.

The residents and their supporters hope the supervisors give a voice to Golden Gate Village during the upcoming term by selecting at least one public housing tenant to serve on the commission. To that end, they endorse two candidates, Sarah Canson of Golden Gate Village, and Cathy Cortez of Bradley House in Tiburon.

The deadline to apply for a seat on the Marin Housing Authority Board of Commissioners is Friday, Aug. 13. For more information about the process and an application, visit https://tinyurl.com/8ey684h6.

Nikki Silverstein
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