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News :: Environment
8/29 Tenant/Housing News- Tenants Face Eviction For Refusing To Eat
by Roll Back The Rents
Email: rollbacktherents (nospam) yahoogroups.com
29 Aug 2004
Modified: 07:09:07 AM
Landlord Evicts Tenants That Refuse To Eat Greasy Food After Complaining Of Getting Sick!
8/29/ Tenant News/Tenants Face Eviction For Refusing Food
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Eat up or face eviction, says landlord!
Columbus landlord serves 5 eviction notices to people that refuse to eat their food after complaining of getting sick!
Alameda CA, plans to sue slumlords that tried to evict 1,200 renters.
People react to the evictions.
San Francisco Housing Agency in trouble...
Tenant/Housing News In Brief from around the nation; Columbus renters refuse food, Alameda to sue slumlord mass evictiors, Boston defends the poor, San Francisco Housing Agency in trouble, officials oppose Section 8 funding shortfalls, Madison-Wisconsin shortens vacancy time in public housing so the people can move in quicker, more of the poor need Section 8 vouchers to help pay the rents, unused housing vouchers that lack funding, housing ideas from Altadena CA, and many Oakland religious leaders are for Bush no matter how bad the Bush Administration has failed the nation in meeting the goals to assist the poor, working class, and elderly...
The Sidney [MT] Herald reported on August 25, 2004 that voucher funding cut threatens 500 to 800 families in Montana with loss of vouchers.
* On August 25, 2004 the Berkshire [MA] Eagle reported that the North Adams City Council challenges HUD's FY 04 voucher funding formula and supports housing preservation legislation.
* On August 24, 2004 the Baltimore Sun reported that in Westminster, MD, the voucher waiting list goes while buying power of vouchers shrinks.
* The Ames(IOWA) Tribune reported on August 24, 2004 that the Ames, IA, Housing Authority must cut vouchers to 13 families due to FY 04 voucher funding changes.
Roll Back The Rents...
Tenants evicted for not eating...
Tenants dispute eviction
Columbus Ledger-Enquirer - Aug 27 1:24 AM
A management company for The Ralston, a Columbus apartment building catering to low-income residents on fixed incomes, has begun the eviction process against people who have not purchased a mandatory meal plan.
LaSalle Management Group Limited, the Minnesota-based property management company, had warrants issued through Municipal Court on Tuesday to evict five residents, Regional Property Manager Claudette Boelter said.
If the residents don't appeal, they face eviction in seven days.
Frank Edmunds, 77, is one of the Ralston residents who has received an eviction notice. The mandatory meal plan went into effect July 1 and Edmunds has refused to participate. He attempted to pay his $301 rent payment in July and August, but the property manager returned the checks. That rent check did not include $165 for the meal plan.
"I don't want to pay for food I don't eat and don't want," Edmunds said Wednesday.
"I need to get out of here," Love said. "I don't want to be on the food program. It is greasy food. I used to have diarrhea all the time. I quit eating there in July and have not had diarrhea since."
Tommy Lee Bruce received an eviction notice Tuesday because he didn't pay for the August meal plan. He tried the meal plan in July, but got sick. He didn't pay for it the next month.
"I thought I'd have a place for the rest of my life," Bruce said. "But they said I got to pay for it or I got to go."
There are about 200 residents in The Ralston's 269 rooms.
Many of the residents at The Ralston receive federal rent subsidies through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Section 8 program.
Click below for full story...
From; The Alameda Sun August 26, 2004
... Tenants from the Harbor Island Apartments once again filled City Hall... with an idea to stop the evictions that will ... In November of last year, Alameda resident Katlyn ...
City (Alameda) to Sue Landlords
Council directs city attorney to pursue litigation with Harbor Island apartment complex owners...
City of Alameda also seeks Temporary Restraining Order against the SLUMLORDS for evicting 1,200 Alameda renters, but remains mum about the kind of lawsuit they plan to file...
Tenants spoke of sinks and toilets painted with lead paint, of a recent insect infestation and asbestos in the ceilings.
Lorraine Lilley, also a Harbor Island tenant, said, “In response to complaints to sewage running into the apartments, we have received sewage bills (from the owners).” She asked if the landlords had been fined for code violations.
Click below for full story...
Reactionaries Speak Out About Alameda's 1,200 Evictions
LETTERS TO A LOCAL EDITOR
Friday, August 20, 2004
Evictions at Harbor Island
Editor -- Your remarkably lengthy editorial ("Exploited, then evicted," Aug. 19) was a mass of strained rationalizations.
The Harbor Island Apartments are portrayed, correctly, as run down with plumbing failures, electrical problems, leaking roofs.
What you failed to mention was the crime problem. Alameda Councilman Tony Daysog likens it to a pig without lipstick. Yet rents are almost on a par with much nicer units in Alameda.
Certainly there are good people living there. Certainly they suffer because of the careless, destructive and criminal tenants. Perhaps this is an opportunity for them to take the landlord's $1,000 and find a nicer place. Perhaps the city should devote its energy to helping good citizens move on to a better situation, rather than trying to turn businesses into charities.
Tenants and politicians (and the press) doubt the owners' intentions to renovate while simultaneously questioning the point in renovating.
The Harbor Island Apartments are indeed a mess. It's time to cut our losses. Help the elderly and infirm to relocate. Stop expecting property owners to be charities. Let them maximize their return, and the city will maximize its tax revenues. If property rights continue to erode, housing shortages will only increase.
Editor -- As a native Alamedan who still has family living in our Pacific Avenue home of 43 years, I am outraged by the situation occurring at the Harbor Island apartments.
What concerns me in particular is that this is not the first time that a group of Alameda residents have experienced mass evictions. The players may be different, but the victims are the same, primarily low-income families and people of color. Are we really going to allow a repeat of the tragic evictions that occurred during the 1960's at the Estuary housing projects?
Forty years ago we watched families and friendships torn apart, Alameda students relocated to other cities, and we did not stop it. Can we afford, ethically and morally, to do this once again?
This is nothing less than purging the island of low-income West Enders. The people of the city and the local government need to make a choice. It is time to stand up and actively choose what kind of community you truly want Alameda to be.
Editor -- Your full-page editorial neglected to put some points in their proper context.
First, it appears for the landlords to lawfully evict the tenants they would have to serve a 30-day eviction notice, which they did. Once they followed the proper legal course, they chose to give all tenants 90 days to relocate once their lease expires plus allowed the tenants a $1,000 relocation stipend, neither of which is legally required.
You also state that these landlords have been neglecting repairs which should never be tolerated. However not making some less critical repairs because they know they are about to embark on a total remodel would be understandable.
It seems that this project is in dire need of dramatic remodeling and the owners should be able to choose how they want to do that and in what time frame. They have legitimate concerns of tenant safety and interference when doing a massive remodel.
Since City Councilman Daysog claims the rents in these run down units are almost on par with nicer units in Alameda, it would seem everyone would be much better served figuring out ways to assist these tenants in relocating to nicer units. It appears from your article the owners of this complex have already gone a long way in helping to do just that.
Affordable Housing, or Not
Affordable Housing Out Of Reach For Many
By Lynda Carson August 24, 2004
Thats Darlene Maney standing next to the mural at the Hugh Taylor House as she stands with her sign that say's, Save Affordable Housing. Maney used to work for the East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (EBALDC), and says, "My Message to the non-profits are that they have a commitment to the applicants to get them into their housing in a timely manner. It should'nt take 6 months to a year to get into low-income housing, especially if the units are prepared and sitting there vacant."
Theres five Section 8 renters in one bedroom units with each being charged $928.00 a month, and theres seven non-section 8 renters in one bedroom units being charged $392.00 per month. The Section 8 tenants are being charged $536.00 more a month than the regular tenants are in identical units!
Below--Some Update Tenant/Housing News In Brief From Around The Nation...
* Julia Kehoe of Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership defends Section 8 on the Boston Globe editorial page on August 24, 2004 .
* The Berkshire Eagle [MA] reported on August 24, 2004 that the North Adams Housing Authority is appealing HUD's FY 04 voucher funding while preparing to cut voucher recipients.
* The Daily Democrat of Woodland, CA reported on August 23, 2004 that The Yolo County, CA, Housing Authority cut 199 families from its voucher program in response to the FY 05 voucher funding cut.
* On August 20, 2004 the Manchester [VT] Journal reported that Advocates from Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire oppose the voucher funding cuts.
* The Eagan [MN] Sun Currant reported on August 19, 2004 that reductions in the payment standard for Wescott Hills, MN--a result of the FY 04 voucher funding cut--are forcing voucher families to relocate and separating them from community support networks.
* The Kansas City Start reported on August 19, 2004 that Kansas mayors met on 8/18 to oppose voucher funding cuts. "Mayor Carol Marinovich of the Unified Board of Commissioners of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kan., said more than 1,300 vouchers would be lost across the state of Kansas."
* The Billings [MT] Gazette reported on August 17, 2004 that Montana's governor and Congressional delegation are protesting HUD's FY 04 voucher funding cut. According to spokesperson for Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT), "There's a difference between being fiscally responsible and yanking the rug out from under people...We need to make sure that we're not hurting the people who need the help most."
* The Springfield [IL] State Journal Register reported on August 18, 2004 that The Springfield Housing Authority is proposing nonrenewal of all voucher contracts for units with 2 or more bedrooms as a response to the voucher funding cut. Upon lease expiration, as many as 380 families could lose their housing assistance.
REDUCING COST OF HOUSING THE POOR
The Boston Globe
August 24, 2004
IN HIS AUG. 23 LETTER, THE DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT'S MICHAEL LIU MAINTAINS THAT BECAUSE SECTION 8 COSTS HAVE INCREASED IN THE PAST FOUR YEARS, THE PROGRAM, AS IT IS RUN TODAY, IS BROKEN BEYOND REPAIR. AS A PRIVATE-MARKET HOUSING PROGRAM, WHERE EXTREMELY LOW-INCOME FAMILIES, DISABLED INDIVIDUALS, AND ELDERS PAY APPROXIMATELY 30 PERCENT OF THEIR INCOME TOWARD RENT, THESE INCREASED COSTS ARE CAUSED BY ESCALATING HOUSING COSTS THAT OUTPACE EARNINGS FOR THE COUNTRY'S LOWEST-PAID WORKERS.
According to a study published by the Center for Housing Policy, the median hourly wage needed to afford a one-bedroom apartment in Greater Boston is more than $20. While many of the Section 8 voucher holders our agency serves are employed, their average income is less than $13,000.
Liu's assertion that more families could be served if only housing authorities had an incentive to do so, is misleading. HUD's plan to encourage agencies to cut costs, maximize subsidies, and serve more families would require agencies to charge unaffordable rents, serve fewer families, and assist higher-income households. Section 8 would no longer be the only housing program targeted to extremely low-income households, and it would not continue to function as the best homeless prevention tool. This is ironic, given the Bush administration's stated goal of ending chronic homelessness.
The only way to minimize costs associated with housing the poor is to reduce the incidence of poverty. It should be noted that President Bush's tax cut for the wealthiest Americans was more than HUD's entire budget for this year.
JULIA E. KEHOE
Executive Director Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership Boston
Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership administers the Section 8 program in Greater Boston.
SAN FRANCISCO / Housing agency 'troubled' again / Finances land S.F. authority on federal list
SF Gate - Aug 25 6:36 AM
The federal government has placed San Francisco's Housing Authority on its list of "troubled'' agencies, a designation that could result in the loss of millions of dollars in grant money to rebuild public housing developments and aid residents, local and federal housing officials said Tuesday.
Another potential ramification: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which funds local housing authorities, could take the rare step of seizing control of San Francisco's troubled agency.
The San Francisco Housing Authority, with a $225 million annual budget, operates 6,400 units in public housing developments throughout the city and administers 10,300 vouchers in the Section 8 and related programs. Thousands of poor residents rely on the agency in a city where rents are among the highest in the nation.
Click below for full story...
Miami Profiteers Abuse Alameda Renters
Minorities Being Run Out Of Alameda
By Lynda Carson August 21, 2004
Protests at Alameda City Hall are becoming a normal ritual lately because so many low-income families are being threatened with forced relocation due to a lack of fair housing laws that could be used to protect them.
A large segment of poor and minority families in Alameda have been taking a beating this past month from a Miami based corporation that is evicting a minimum of 1,200 people from their housing units in the City of Alameda.
"I still can't believe that this is happening to us," said long time renter Lorraine Lilley. "We are the last holdout of diversity in Alameda, we are people of color and you will not find a more diverse area in this city. After 25 years of paying rent here and raising two kids, I feel as though I should be part owner of this complex by now, and instead I'm being tossed out upon the streets like some kind of used piece of junk thats not wanted anymore."
Click below for full story.
Unsafe, unsanitary areas rile residents
Detroit News - Aug 22 11:13 PM
DETROIT — It’s not just the sight of used condoms and needles or the smell of urine that leaves Bettie Washington breathless, it’s the 13 flights of stairs she’s forced to navigate when the elevators break down at the Brewster-Douglass housing project off Interstate 75, near Mack.
“They have to do something about me not needing to walk down these steps all the time,” said the 55-year-old who depends on a wooden cane to support a bad knee. “There’s a lot of old people in here. Some of them can’t come down.”
Unsanitary and unsafe living conditions are common challenges faced by residents of the Detroit Housing Commission. And its recent separation from direct city oversight has made matters worse for thousands of poor across the city. The separation has caused cutbacks in staff and left more than 80 jobs unfilled.
When the commission became its own entity last month, it scaled back its work force to 259 from 301 employees, and 86 of the 259 positions are unfilled.
Now, low-income housing residents complain about trash-filled stairwells, broken elevators and windows, fungus, clogged gutters and faulty furnaces, their cries seemingly unheard as the commission grapples with reorganizing.
Click below for full story and photos...
Officials: Voucher system failing
nwitimes.com - Aug 22 10:30 PM
Housing officials in communities with large numbers of Section 8 voucher users say they don't have a problem with the residents, but rather with the system.
Housing officials in communities with large numbers of Section 8 voucher users say they don't have a problem with the residents, but rather with the system.
Rebecca Wojewoda, Calumet City's fair housing director, said the federal department of Housing and Urban Development should put the vouchers in the hands of local municipalities to prevent the re-creation of "pockets of poverty," she said.
"This has become a lifelong program. Section 8 was not intended to be lifelong," Wojewoda said. "It was intended to help people get a start, raising their children in safe neighborhoods, not re-creating pockets of poverty."
In Calumet City, she said the working poor suffer most, since they do not qualify for vouchers and cannot afford to pay the above-market-rate rent many landlords would rather save for Section 8 voucher holders. It is advantageous to be a Section 8 landlord, since HUD generally pays about 70 percent of the rent. As a result, real-estate investors can get higher-than-market rent for units through the voucher program, Wojewoda said.
"The working poor can no longer afford housing," she said. "The government has made renting unaffordable to the working poor, not those without resources (for government assistance)."
HOUSING - Section 8 draining south suburbs
Housing authorities, experts say system is failing.
BY MEMA AYI Sunday Aug 22, 2004
Times Staff Writer
While the number of Section 8 vouchers used locally is on the decline, housing officials maintain the program is placing an unfair burden on the south suburbs.
A total of 11 communities in south suburban Cook County saw a decrease in the numbers of families using vouchers the past year.
Still, about 70 percent of Cook County's vouchers are distributed in the south suburbs, despite the region's distinction of housing only 25 percent of the county's rental properties, according to the not-for-profit Housing Choice Partners.
Joe Martin, executive director of Diversity Inc., a not-for-profit coalition of south suburban municipalities whose purpose, in part, is to eliminate housing discrimination, said racism also plays a part in where people choose to live. As a result, Section 8 families tend to be concentrated in the poorest areas of the metropolitan region.
More than 90 percent of families in the voucher program are black women who are heads of households and have some children, which may be the reason distribution of the vouchers is concentrated in the South Suburbs, Martin said. A more fair distribution of the vouchers would send people to the north and west suburbs were there are more job opportunities, though rent tends to be out of the range HUD is willing to pay, he said.
From Cook County illinois.
Online from Westerly, Rhode Island
Westerly Sun - Aug 21 5:50 AM
WESTERLY - Proposed cuts in government housing grants threaten to cripple the town's Section 8 program and kick the local affordable housing crisis into high gear, according to figures released by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
HUD has proposed to reduce the town's fair market monthly rent, the federal price cap on housing that can qualify for Section 8 subsidies, according to Theresa Wright, of the Westerly Housing Authority.
"Proposed fair market rents are decreasing, but the rents (in town) are increasing," Wright said. "Our congress people need to support the fact that we can't support people on a decreased fair market rent," she added.
According to Wright, the Section 8 program subsidizes tenants unable to afford rents through vouchers paid to their landlords. Currently, the federal fair market rent for a typical two-bedroom apartment in town is $797. Under HUD's proposed spending plan for 2005, however, that figure drops to $671, she said.
"Are you going to find a two-bedroom unit in Westerly for $670?" Wright asks, "I don't think so."
The Westerly Housing Authority now has 198 households receiving Section 8 vouchers, but that number may be all but wiped out if the new fair market rent takes affect.
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City buys apartments
Sonoma Index-Tribune - Aug 20 5:09 PM
8.20.04 - With the goal of preserving an affordable housing complex inside city limits, the Sonoma City Council gave the nod Wednesday to purchase the 34-unit Village Green II apartment complex.
The property is expected to cost the city about $4.2 million, or about $123,529 an apartment. Of that, $3.95 million will pay for the apartments and land; $30,000 will be used for appraisal, legal and consultant fees; $170,000 will pay for building repairs; and the remainder would go for other expenses including title insurance and escrow fees.
The loans will be repaid through a mix of rent monies and government subsidies. Tenants currently pay $405 a month for a one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment and $535 for a two-bedroom, one-bathroom unit - not enough money for the city to be able to make the mortgage payment without assistance.
Market rate for a one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment in the complex is $935, and $1,225 is market rate for a two-bedroom, one-bathroom. There are eight two-bedroom units.
The apartments have been rented at below-market rates since they were built in the mid-1970s. The lower rents were part of an agreement the owners made with the U.S. Department of Agriculture when they took out a 50-year low-interest construction loan to pay for building costs. The owners began paying off the debt to the USDA last June and are only required to rent the homes as very-low-income housing until the mortgage is paid.
The apartments are part of a larger 75-unit complex, which was built in two phases. Each portion of the project was financed separately. The loan on the first 41 units was paid off, and the apartments are now being rented at market rate.
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Sun Herald - Aug 21 7:20 PM
PUNTA GORDA -- Leaving home is never easy, even when home is a place most people would never care to visit. Such was the sadness at the Punta Gorda Housing Authority's Myrtle Avenue complex Saturday afternoon, as residents, relations and friends gathered at a pig roast before separating.
"Today is the day when I think it sank in for them," said Jean Farino, executive director of the Housing Authority of the former tenants. "So many of them were crying."
Karen Cato-Turner, federal director of public housing and Section 8 programs, said 65 of the former tenants have been relocated. More than 350 people lived in the city's public housing projects, and new residences are still being sought for them.
Cato-Turner said that some of the building may be bulldozed to make way for new housing. She said former tenants would have first dibs on the new units.
Another fear of many is that city officials may take a covetous look at the waterfront units of the Housing Authority. But Cato-Turner said she doubted that public housing would be replaced.
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Yolo Housing authority cuts vouchers
The Woodland Daily Democrat Online - Aug 19 12:32 AM
Yolo County Housing Authority moved Tuesday to cut 199 families from the Section 8 housing subsidy program. The decision on how to deal with funding reductions by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development was made at a public hearing in West Sacramento.
Until this week, the Yolo County Housing Authority - one of about 2,500 institutions in the county that administers the program - had staved off cuts that were set into motion last spring. On April 22, HUD notified housing authorities that they would not be able to provide more Housing Choice Voucher subsidies than were given in August 2003.
In addition to setting a limit on vouchers, HUD reduced the amount it pays toward the vouchers and administration fees.
Authority officials said they still hope to find additional funds elsewhere. Until then, those who have received subsidies the longest are slated to be cut from the program.
The handicapped, people older than 61 and families with a member abroad serving in the Armed Forces will not be affected by the decision, which will impact 14 percent of the families currently taking advantage of the program.
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Motel shelter program shut down
Berkshire Eagle - Aug 20 11:55 PM
NORTH ADAMS -- The state Department of Transitional Assistance has halted a program that allowed motels and hotels to serve as shelter for the homeless, a decision met with a thumbs-down from several area human-service providers.
The program, which had operated for five years at a cost of more than $50 million, was deemed too expensive, said a statement from Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey.
About 97 motels were used statewide and the program peaked in August 2003 with 599 families staying at a motel or hotel.
Louison House Program Manager Christine Griffin said she had no idea such a move was coming. The Adams-based shelter is full with 26 residents, including children, and there is a shelter waiting list, Griffin said.
Massachusetts Homeless Coalition member Kelly Turley said that about 10,500 families are homeless in the state.
Palatka Daily News - Aug 20 4:23 AM
PALATKA The public housing director said Thursday that new building requirements will make it easier to get rid of the downtown high-rise, while board members assured residents they will not be left out in the cold if they do.
The PHA has been trying to sell or demolish the Frank George Apartments for several years. The city of Palatka's plans to lure a developer to the area hinge on being able to offer that property and an adjacent city block on the riverfront.
High-rise resident James Gibbs expressed concern about the fate of the residents. Commissioner David Baggs said the PHA would continue to provide housing to its residents.
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Tulalip Tribes admit to problems
Emily Heffter; Times Snohomish County bureau
The Seattle Times
August 20, 2004
Months before the Tulalip Tribes learned they might lose their U.S. Housing and Urban Development grant money because of bad bookkeeping, they were trying to hire accountants.
The tribes have been advertising their need for two certified public accountants, Tribal Chairman Stan Jones said. Now, as tribal leaders scramble to investigate what went wrong and regain the trust of HUD, they are matter of fact about their shortcomings.
"We've grown so fast, you know, you get behind there," said Jones.
The tribes' board dissolved the Tulalip Tribes Housing Authority and its Board of Commissioners on Tuesday, following a letter from HUD that questioned seven years' worth of spending by the housing authority. Housing commissioners may have misused as much as $6.3 million.
Audits and reports from the past several years show commissioners took money intended for housing for poor tribal members and spent it on trips, expensive meals and other questionable expenses. According to HUD's letter, they also failed to file audits and reports, double-paid themselves and disregarded HUD's environmental regulations. The tribes have 30 days to reach an agreement with HUD.
Disbanding the housing authority hit close to home for two members of the board of directors: Vice Chairwoman Marie Zackuse is married to a housing commissioner; another board member and the tribes' treasurer, Marlin Fryberg, served for seven years on the housing commission before being elected to the board.
Neither Fryberg nor the Zackuses returned calls seeking comment yesterday. Repeated attempts to reach housing commission Chairwoman Verna James and former Chairman Dale Jones were unsuccessful.
Over the past decade, the Tulalips have grown from an impoverished people heavily dependent on a waning fishing industry and federal government grants to a multimillion-dollar corporation. They opened a huge, $78 million casino last summer, but within six months they hit financial trouble and laid off 240 employees in order to keep up on loan payments.
Problems at the casino and the housing authority had a common denominator, said former Tulalip Casino Chief Executive Chuck James: Managers aren't trained to deal with large sums of money.
"It's strictly training," he said yesterday. "Training people how to manage people and manage the affairs of the departments that they're working in."
Tribes around the state need more accountants to keep up with their growth, said Judy Joseph, superintendent of the Puget Sound region of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. When the state legalized casinos on reservations, tribes found they had to hire accountants from Nevada, she said.
The Tulalip Tribes' board changed the locks on the housing authority office so it can hire an auditor to investigate. If the tribes can reach an agreement with HUD, they still may be spared financial sanctions. HUD could make them repay the nearly $12 million in grants the tribes have been allocated since 1998 or freeze an unspent $5.7 million.
Emily Heffter: 425-783-0624 or eheffter (at) seattletimes.com
Article Published: Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 10:25:33 AM EST
Councilors oppose HUD cuts
By Susan Bush
North Adams Transcript
NORTH ADAMS -- City councilors voted unanimous support for a resolution opposing federal Department of Housing and Urban development Section 8 funding cuts during Tuesday's meeting.
Prior to the vote, Councilor Richard Alcombright termed the cuts "reckless."
Housing Authority Executive Director Marlene Walsh announced earlier this month that 26 out-of-the area families were terminated from the voucher program.
Councilor Ronald Boucher drew applause from about 12 audience members who receive Section 8 assistance when he said, "It amazes me that the government can cut programs to people who need them here and yet we send millions of dollars overseas."
More than 300 city families receive Section 8 vouchers through the city housing authority.
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Families won't lose Section 8 vouchers
Belleville News-Democrat - 55 minutes ago
A $1.6 million federal grant won't help Madison County's Section 8 problem, but officials say 19 families that had received warnings won't lose their vouchers Sept. 1 after all.
Madison County Housing Director John Hamm said the grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development must be used toward building projects and renovations.
However, Hamm said his department will not have to pull any Section 8 vouchers Sept. 1, as had been planned. Housing and Urban Development has revised Madison County's funding, he said, and they have reordered the budget to allow 19 families facing loss of assistance to stay in the program.
The federal Section 8 program provides vouchers to low-income residents for rent assistance. But the Madison County Housing Authority had to cut funding due to a lack of federal funds, and as many as 130 families could have lost their assistance.
Residents and the activist group Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now protested at Hamm's office Aug. 12.
"We'll still need some money from (HUD)," he said. "We're sitting on 919 vouchers that we can issue, but we're only able to support 756."
Meanwhile, the $1.6 million grant will go to demolish the Sullivan Homes in Alton,
Click below for full story...
Requests for rent subsidies increase; Longer Section 8 wait list alarms housing director; Low pay, high costs blamed; Westminster
The Baltimore Sun
August 25, 2004
High rents are making it nearly impossible for Westminster's working families to live without assistance, the city's housing director has told council members.
"The reality is, people can't pay rent where they are," Karen Blandford, administrator of Westminster's Office of Housing and Community Development, said at a Monday council meeting.
Blandford reported a rise in working families applying for the Section 8 Rental Assistance program, an increase she attributes to escalating rents, low rental vacancies and low-paying jobs.
Very few of those families are on welfare, she said. Many work in businesses around town, including discount stores, fast-food restaurants and department stores.
The 2004 Public Housing Agency plan for Westminster showed 453 families with children on the waiting list for assistance, a jump of 27 percent from the previous year.
Blandford said the expansion of the waiting list alarms her.
The overall waiting list for the vouchers - which also includes individuals and childless couples - jumped to 769 in 2004 from 674 the previous year. Blandford said 367 of those applicants live or work within Westminster city limits, while the rest live elsewhere in Carroll County.
Section 8 vouchers are part of a federal housing program that partially subsidizes rent for eligible participants. Westminster is allotted 289 vouchers, according to the 2004 housing agency plan for Westminster.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development gave Westminster nearly $2 million in grants to fund the program this year. But midway through the year, the local program's budget was cut by 10 percent as part of a nationwide reduction in allocations, Blandford said.
It is unlikely anyone will leave the waiting list, especially because only 2 percent to 5 percent of the county's rental properties are vacant. She also said that some families are turning to assistance because they are spending up to 70 percent of their income on rent.
Average monthly rents in the Baltimore metropolitan area range from $727 for a one-bedroom apartment to $1,345 for four bedrooms.
The program will pay 10 percent less of the fair market value of rental units starting in October, Blandford said. The program will only be able to pay from $660 for a one-bedroom apartment to $1,352 for four bedrooms. The reduced rate will be applicable to new leases. Current program participants will not see increases on their leases.
"This will really have a negative impact on people," Blandford said. "Not all landlords will accept that, because rents they can get from other people are higher. But our rents are more stable."
Those who can no longer afford their rents are forced to move in with other families, or they live with family members or end up in homeless shelters, she said.
"These are the people who are the last to feel the resurgence of the economy when it gets better," Blandford said. "By definition, these are people living in crisis."
Carroll County landlords said the cuts to the program will have an effect on who gets the scarce rentals available in the county.
"It's going to hurt the people that can afford it least," said Russ Arenz II, president of the Carroll County Landlords Association. He rents 25 units that have rarely been empty for the past few years.
He said he, as a landlord, does not differentiate between Section 8 tenants and others. He said 60 percent of his tenants are in this program. But the reality, he said, is that apartments will go to those who will pay the rent established by the landlord.
"There is an unending source of people that want - that need - housing. It is a seller's market," Arenz said.
He said that if landlords have to choose between someone with a HUD voucher who can pay 90 percent of the rent and someone else who can pay the full price, the landlord will more than likely choose the latter.
MADISON GETS ITS HOUSES IN ORDER; CITY GOVERNMENT HAS MADE GREAT STRIDES IN MANAGING PUBLIC HOUSING MORE EFFECTIVELY AND EFFICIENTLY.
Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, WI)
August 25, 2004
Madison's public housing agency, once a morass of inefficient bureaucracy, continues to improve its management of almost 900 apartments at 40 sites throughout the city.
Before director Augie Olvera took the helm, the housing unit had received a grade of "F" from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development 10 years in a row. It was taking the agency's work crews more than three months to get a vacant apartment ready to rent, which was driving the occupancy rates down. Meanwhile, a city audit said the agency sometimes couldn't tell how many apartments were empty, or how much back rent was owed. Officials also found numerous errors in agency bookkeeping as well as instances where federal policy was incorrectly applied.
Said Ald. Steve Holtzman at the time: "In any other organization, people would have been fired."
Well, no one got fired (this is city government we're talking about). But fortuitously, the former director quit to take a job with the Doyle administration. That opened the door for Olvera, and he's done a very good job.
For example, in July, crews took just 11 days to get a vacant apartment ready to rent. The number of apartments vacant for more than 30 days dropped to zero. Overall vacancy rates have plummeted to just 3 percent. The amount of past-due rent has also fallen to 7 percent, a level acceptable to HUD.
Olvera's boss, city planning director Mark Olinger, says they've worked hard to improve the agency's performance. Maintenance has been centralized, so instead of having one or two workers at a site, the agency can now send out a crew of seven or eight, so jobs get done faster. Rental procedures have also been centralized, and the application process has been streamlined, so when an apartment becomes available, tenants are ready to move in.
"Remember that audit?" Olinger asked with a chuckle. "Well, we took much of it to heart." He too credits Olvera with turning the agency around.
All that said, there is still a serious shortage of low-income housing in Madison. Olvera estimates the city needs at least 10,000 affordable units. This is a problem that city government can't solve by itself. But good progress has been made now that the housing agency finally has its own house in order.
From Altadena CA.
New ideas needed
With many needy and deserving families waiting in Pasadena for affordable housing, we must reframe the issue so that we can find the solution. With the increased demand for housing in Southern California, Pasadena's problems are not unique. And with HUD subsidies falling as reported recently, this problem will only get worse.
While the City Council debates how to force developers to pay higher and higher "in-lieu' fees, existing landlords continue to convert apartments to condominiums, reducing the quantity of apartments and raising demand. While the need for housing increases, landlords continue to raise rents, pushing lower income families out of the Pasadena area, likely away from their employers and current schools and beginning a further decline in these families' standard of living.
With increased housing comes increased traffic, but increased traffic and the ever-growing need for affordable housing are two separate issues, each of which demands different solutions. While we can try to use residential "in-lieu' fees [in-lieu of affordable housing] to increase affordable housing, this will provide just a drop in the bucket for the truly dramatic needs for affordable housing and is ignoring the true root causes of this issue.
To address our serious affordable-housing issue, let's reconsider our $95 million City Hall face lift and revisit an earlier structural plan endorsed by a team of nationally recognized California structural engineers that provided a well-designed seismic upgrade similar to what is done consistently in the private sector and priced at one- third the cost. The resulting savings could be employed in providing subsidies to landlords not to convert apartments to condos and not to raise rents and also provide funds necessary for needy families to purchase their first homes or meet the increased rents.
To date, the "in-lieu' fee has been ineffective in producing affordable housing and it does not target increased rents, reductions of rental units, or reduce our traffic. With regards to traffic, the Del Mar station project was recently heralded as a great urban project but it is providing parking [and traffic] for 1.5 more cars to our beloved city for each of its approximately 400 units [and their owners].
As recently proclaimed at a city symposium sponsored by Councilman Madison, this city must support less dense projects, projects with fewer units per acre and not force developers to provide this higher quantity of stalls per unit. For example, it was noted that San Francisco requires only one parking stall for every four residential units, thereby attracting buyers that work locally or enjoy using public transit.
To solve our affordable housing issue and traffic issue, we need new ideas.
NOTE: Despite the Bush Administrations sabotage of the housing programs of America, the attacks upon the poor, the American War Crimes happening in Iraq, the loss of over time and loss of jobs overseas, the largest debt in American history, and the worlds corporations polluting our food and communities from here to hell, many homophobic religious leaders of Oakland would still rather vote for the BUSH REGIME.....
What would Jesus say about this state of affairs if he was around?
Love thy neighbor or support thy War Criminals?
Article Last Updated: Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 3:44:33 AM PST
Black religious leaders back Bush
President's stance on gay marriage draws support
By Chauncey Bailey, STAFF WRITER
OAKLAND -- Citing biblical opposition to same-sex marriages, a group of African-American pastors said Tuesday they support President Bush for re-election.
"We are not selecting a party but a principle," said the Rev. Lester Cannon Sr. of Cornerstone Baptist Church. He said Democratic presidential contender Sen. John Kerry would usher in "a change in the environment for same-sex marriages and (acceptance of) homosexuality. God made Eve, not Steve, (for Adam)."
Nineteen other pastors, standing with Cannon, said they're concerned about an erosion of values and the negative message same-sex unions sends to children. Comparing gay rights to civil rights is "an insult," they said.
At the core of their argument, however, is biblical scripture that says homosexuality is a sin. While pastors may tolerate the sinner, they said, they cannot condone sin.
Among pastors who spoke were the Revs. Harvey Smith, Walter Humphries, Kevin Barnes, Keith Clark, Daniel Stevens and Dr. Earl Crawford. "This will be my first time ever voting Republican," said Smith. "But we stand for what the Bible says."
The Oakland pastors said Kerry favors letting the states decide whether to allow same-sex marriages.
Democrats have countered Republicans are using the controversy as a "wedge issue" to further divide the nation.
Bush has said marriage should only involve a man and woman, and backed by the ultra-conservative religious right, he has favored a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex unions.
Other black Bay Area pastors have said they, too, had been contacted in recent months by Republicans who stated the president's stand on the issue and noted he favors faith-based initiatives or church-run social service programs. To some pastors, even subtle promises of faith-based program funding sounds like
an attempt to "buy" votes or a key endorsement.
A number of other local black pastors declined to join the group, saying it was the wrong move politically.
Asked if funding for faith-based programs may be viewed as a payment for votes or support, Cannon said, "No one is buying our votes ... but that is not Republican money ... it's federal money and we pay taxes so that money would just be coming back to our communities. We are taking the high road."
During the 2000 Republican National Convention in Philadelphia, the Rev. Herbert Lusk of Philadelphia made a passionate statement for Bush.
Two months ago, Lusk received $1 million for faith-based programs, said Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit.
"The lure of money is worrisome," he said. The group has filed a complaint with the IRS, which has declined to comment on the case.
"A pastor has the right to endorse anyone," said Lynn. "Where it gets questionable is if they imply they are speaking for entire congregations."
Black churches have historically been sounding boards for liberal or moderate Democrats running for public office after pastors have invited them to speak in the interest of voter education.
Opinion polls show the vast majority of African Americans are supporting Kerry. And in recent presidential elections, blacks have voted for Democrats over Republicans by margins of 10 to 1.
A poll released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center, based in New Jersey, said 65 percent of Americans don't believe churches should endorse candidates.
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