Hannah Albarazi | SFBay.com

The Beck Group’s Dallas Arboretum Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden is one of the projects competing for the Urban Land Institute award.At a press conference in a public housing unit in the Tenderloin neighborhood this afternoon, Secretary Castro said that this shift to private management of public housing would allow major improvements to public housing to be made leveraging private capital. He said this announcement comes after years of government failure to address the needs of public housing units nationwide.

Tight federal budgets and limited state and city funding has left many public housing units in unsafe conditions and has prevented creation of new units, according to Castro. Through the U.S. Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program, housing units in San Francisco, and across the country, are being transferred from the public housing programs to a Section 8 program.

Private developers, drawn to the program by tax breaks and subsidies, are given incentives to invest in affordable rental housing under the RAD program. According to the National Housing Institute, a non-profit research organization, the RAD program was created in 2012 in order to give public housing authorities a tool to preserve and improve the country’s more than 1.1 million public housing properties in need of repairs, and address a backlog of roughly $26 billion in deferred maintenance nationwide. Read more