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News :: Human Rights
HUD Supressing Poor Vote
10 Oct 2004
Read All about Efforts Being Made To Suppress The Poor Vote! Plus Stories From Around The Nation About The Housing Crsis!
For some of the latest tenant housing news, join Roll Back The Rents!

Just send an e-mail to;
rollbacktherents-subscribe (at)


The Bush administration's attacks upon the poor, disabled and elderly continue due to the $1.35 trillion dollar tax cut given to Americas wealthiest families!

The Bush administration does not want the poor to vote!

HUD suprresion of POOR VOTE! Not only has HUD become the enemy of the poor, housing authorities around the nation are now being prohibited from participating in voter registration and election activities! See October 8, 2004 National Low-Income Housing Coalition report below...

Meanwhile, HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson heads to Sarasota, Florida, for an election pep talk rally for wealthy Republicans at the Sarasota Hyatt... See very bottom report...

Long term Section 8 voucher holders of Northern California face homelessness. Disabled, elderly and poor renters of Yolo County are now being told that they will no longer receive Federal housing aid. See story below...

HUD attacks housing for the abused, disabled and elderly in Marin County... See story below...

Presidential campaigns avoid talking about poverty and fill the minds of voters with visions of terror... "Whoever is elected, we had better be at their front door to make clear that poverty is the weapon of mass destruction for America," Jim Wallis said (editor of Sojourners magazine) in an interview on Friday. See story below...

HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson seeks safe ground with Republicans in Sarasota. After recently being booed off the stage at a major New Orleans Baptist's Convention, the HUD Secretary has kept a low profile before heading to a Republican rally in Florida to join the author of Bush Country for a speaking engagement... See bottom report...

In The News...

New HUD Fair Market Rent (FMR) uncertainty grows...

Voucher crisis worsens on Capital Hill...

Baseball, Hot Dogs, and Mass Evictions in Alameda, California...

San Francisco treats the homeless worse than dirt...

A housing crisis for refugees arises in Omaha, Nebraska...

Children face lead poisoning in Bangor, Maine...

Housing discrimination problems exist in the colonia's of Arizona...

Roll Back The Rents

HUD Suppression Of Poor Vote

Advocates Object to Voter Suppression Provisions of Senate VA-HUD Approps Bill

NLIHC sent letters to the Senate Appropriations Committee this week urging removal of language from Section 224 of the Senate Appropriations Committee's VA-HUD spending bill, S. 2825, which prohibits housing authorities from using any federal funds for voter registration and other election-related activity (see Memo, September 24 and October 1).  The letter stated that, "Section 224, like other forms of voter suppression, will inhibit the potential for public housing residents to vote, the most basic behavior expected of citizens."

In a separate letter to Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Christopher Bond (R-MO), the Public Housing Authorities Directors Association (PHADA) also sought the elimination of the language in Section 224.  PHADA questions why housing authorities were singled out in this prohibition and notes that, "The proposal at hand runs counter to ... public housing's overall mission, in our view."

Vouchers for low-income housing secure
The Woodland Daily Democrat Online - Oct 09
Nearly 200 families got word this week their Section 8 housing vouchers are secure. Yolo County Housing Authority mailed letters last Friday informing the families their contracts would not be canceled.

Yolo County Housing Authority mailed letters last Friday informing the families their contracts would not be canceled. The letters effectively nullified notices mailed last August, which told 199 families their contracts would end on Nov. 3 due to lack of funds.

Those who have used the vouchers the longest were told the program could no longer afford to aid them, according to Housing Programs Manager Patricia Zimmerman-Krebs.

The average voucher for those who received notices is worth about $600, she said.

Seventy-nine of those families live in Woodland. Another 79 live in West Sacramento. Thirty-eight live in Davis. The rest live in Esparto, Winters, and other towns or unincorporated areas.

According to the letters, the county authority is still losing about $75,000 per month and has been since July.

On April 22, HUD notified housing authorities nationwide 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.

Click below for full story...,1413,136~32730~2457376,00.html

Voucher Crisis:  Week 25

October 8, 2004

West Virginia Advocates Discuss Voucher Threats

On October 5, the West Virginia Association of Housing Agencies (WVAHA) hosted a discussion on the threats that West Virginia Section 8 Voucher holders face as the voucher crisis continues to worsen on Capitol Hill.

"It was a great opportunity for various stakeholders in the Section 8 Voucher Program to educate themselves about the threats to the program. Hopefully everyone came away from the meeting with an understanding of how best to advocate to save the program both statewide and nationwide," said Phyllis Gilberti with the National Alliance to End Homelessness.

Click below for full report...

New FMR Rent Survey Uncertainty Grows

After the release of the 2005 Final Fair Market Rents (FMRs) on October 1, advocates in cities like Chicago and Boston needed an explanation for how expected increases from the proposed to the Final FMRs failed to materialize.

It will be some time until all the questions are answered.  This new revelation, however, simply serves to underline the fact that advocates should consider the 2005 Final FMRs as published by HUD on October 1 as preliminary. HUD has extended the comment period until November 5, 2004. See for more information.

Click below for full report...

Baseball, Hot Dogs, and Mass Evictions

The unusual parallel between late ballplayer Thurman Munson and the guys who plan to boot 1,200 Alamedans to the curb.
feedback (at) | originally published: October 6, 2004

Baseball hero Thurman Munson inspired two real-estate tycoons from Miami.  

What could possibly connect a couple of aspiring real-estate tycoons from Miami, late baseball hero Thurman Munson, and the sudden eviction of 1,200 tenants in Alameda? More than anyone could reasonably expect.

In the 1970s, Miami schoolkids Mark and Ian Sanders idolized Munson, the legendary New York Yankee catcher. The love never really died. In 1992, the brothers started a real-estate company and named it the Fifteen Group, after the number Munson wore on his baseball uniform.

The Fifteen Group specializes in buying and managing "Class C multifamily units," a real-estate euphemism that roughly translates as "slums." During a housing recession in 1992, the brothers began buying Class C apartments in working-class and minority neighborhoods at rock-bottom prices. They now own or manage 14,700 units in complexes across the country, which bring in $100 million in revenues annually.

While the evictions have received some press coverage, the daily newspaper reports overlooked a quirky but significant part of the story: how these siblings' love for Thurman Munson has apparently led them to make life miserable for scores of low-income families.

You'd think Munson would be a good role model, since he was excellence personified on the field. Before his career was cut short by a plane crash in 1979, he batted over .300 for three straight years, won 1970's Rookie of the Year, 1976's Most Valuable Player, and Gold Gloves three years in a row. He also played in seven All-Star games.

Off the field, though, Munson had the rep of one mean son of a bitch. When he wasn't glaring silently at sportswriters, he was berating them for not sufficiently recognizing his talents. He brawled, badmouthed his teammates, and abused autograph-seekers. And when Munson died, one sportswriter observed, "All that's changed is that he's now a dead prick."

Emulating their hero, the Sanderses say the secret of their success is "aggressive management." Brother Ian proudly explained the company's approach to trade magazine Multifamily Executive: No longer could cash-pinched tenants negotiate to pay some of their rent on time and the rest on payday, for instance.

Munson's tough-guy stance may play okay in cities like Miami, but it doesn't get you on base in the East Bay: When the Sanders brothers decided to evict 1,200 people in July for dubious reasons, Alameda wasn't about to play ball. Most of Harbor Island's low-income residents are people of color, children, seniors, people with disabilities, and/or Section 8 recipients, all of whom are eligible for special protections. The evictions would also significantly decrease diversity in a city that had only 4,488 black residents as of the last census. Local politicians weren't about to sit around doing nothing.

Meanwhile, the Fifteen Group denies its neglect-and-evict tactic is an attempt to replace the current tenants with a more upscale crowd.

So go the Sanders brothers, according to some who have dealt with them. "At the meeting, they came across as very arrogant, disrespectful, and hostile," says Lorraine Lilley, a representative elected by the tenants.

Last week, with the blessing of Alameda County District Attorney Tom Orloff, the city sued the Fifteen Group in Federal District Court, accusing it of unfair business practices, discriminatory housing practices, misrepresentation, retaliation against tenants for exercising lawful tenancy rights, and deliberately encouraging vacancy with "untreated sewage, unsafe premises and common areas, and inadequate security resulting in increased crime." A hearing on the city's injunction to halt the evictions is scheduled for October 14 in San Francisco.

The Sanderses would do well to heed the moral that karma eventually prevails; that arrogance and callousness will get you in the end; and that a winning strategy on your home field may well bring defeat in an away game.

Click below for full story...

Newsom-era homeless policy includes towing and dumping poor people's property

San Francisco Bay Guardian - October, 2004

When Mayor Gavin Newsom announced the creation of the Bayview Neighborhood Rescue Team in late August, he promised a fresh approach to dealing with problems in that neighborhood. But Sept. 30, in a move that has left city officials fumbling for an explanation, city workers tore apart a homeless encampment, a sweep that appeared to disregard the needs of the human beings involved.

...when we asked [Newsom] about the Bayview sweep, about which his office had been alerted five days prior by us and by members of the public, he claimed to be out of the loop. "I am just now getting the facts," he said. "This was not directed by our office." But who did direct it? Department of Human Services chief Trent Rhorer, whose office is supposed to take the lead on housing the homeless, also said he knew nothing about the sweep.

Lost in the shuffle are the former R.V. dwellers who now must find somewhere else to stay.

Click below for full story...

Resettlement group scrambling to find housing for refugees
Omaha World-Herald - Oct 09
An Omaha agency that resettles refugees faces a housing shortage that could cut the number of large families coming from war-torn countries. The latest setback, says an official from Heartland Refugee Resettlement, came this week when its provider of big rental houses cut off its supply.

That has Heartland scrambling to line up other affordable housing for future refugees, including a 10-member Somali Bantu family scheduled to arrive in a week.

The predicament facing Heartland, an arm of Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska, sheds light on challenges faced by resettlement communities with limited funds to establish the newcomers.

According to frantic landlord;

"It's gotten unbearable," he said. "There's a communication barrier between the people coming into the country and not knowing what their responsibilities are."

Frustration mounted, Stevens said, when families moved around without switching names on utilities and other bills. He said Heartland staff didn't always follow up on other matters, including ensuring that clients mowed the lawn or used appliances correctly.

"If you've got 12 people living in a house, you're going to have issues, especially with kids. That creates excessive wear and tear," he said.

Click below for full story...

MSHA loses grant to fight lead poisoning
Bangor Daily News - Oct 09
Maine's fight against childhood lead poisoning lost valuable ground recently when the Maine State Housing Authority failed to obtain a $3 million federal grant to help make lead-contaminated homes safe.

Click below for full story...

HUD ruling jars local agencies Affordable housing projects, nonprofits placed in jeopardy
Marin Independent Journal - Oct 07
A crackdown by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has dealt a serious blow to an affordable housing project under construction in Point Reyes Station, threatened to alter two similar projects, and undermined the financial viability of more than a dozen Marin nonprofits serving battered women, the elderly, disabled, mentally ill and homeless.

Click below for full story...,1413,234~24407~2451786,00.html

Fair Housing grant to focus on Nogales Hwy.
The Arizona Daily Star - Oct 09
The federal government has awarded about $218,000 to a Tucson-based organization that helps enforce federal laws against housing discrimination.

The Southwest Fair Housing Council will focus on using the money in low-income neighborhoods where people may be susceptible to unfair treatment because they don't understand English well or aren't familiar with U.S. laws, said Richard Rhey, the council's executive director.

The council also will establish a fair-housing clinic for the more than 3,500 residents who live near Nogales Highway south of East Hughes Access Road.

A survey conducted last year with help from the University of Arizona showed that fair-housing problems in the Nogales Highway area include what are known as contracts for deed, Rhey said.

Contracts for deed can be a low-cost route to living in a trailer or mobile home on private property, Rhey said, but the contracts may hold potential pitfalls for residents.

The land may not have sewer or water service, he said. The properties may be flood-prone, or owners may decide to force tenants to leave and contract with someone else.

A portion of the Nogales Highway area also has been classified as what the federal government calls a colonia. The term is used in border regions of the Southwest to designate low-income subdivisions with substandard housing, or sewer or water systems that need modernization.

Click below for full story...

Wheels roll to beat poverty
Wisconsin State Journal - Oct 09
Both major presidential campaigns are dodging the "P word" -- poverty -- and misleading voters with a myopic vision of terror, evangelist Jim Wallis, in Madison on the Rolling to Overcome Poverty bus tour, said Friday.

"Whoever is elected, we had better be at their front door to make clear that poverty is the weapon of mass destruction for America," Wallis said in an interview.

"It touches everything else, in its social costs and connections to terrorism. Investing in a different future makes sense and is the right thing to do. But neither party has that kind of vision."

Wallis spoke to a group of faith-based social activists at a luncheon at the Northport Apartments hosted by the Greater Isthmus Group of Madison-area Urban Ministry. He is founder of Call to Renewal, a federation of faith-based social justice organizations, and editor of Sojourners magazine.

Northport Apartments, and Packer Townhomes across Northport Drive on the city's north side, are housing developments for low-income families funded through the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development and operated by the Housing Ministries of American Baptists in Wisconsin.

Wallis praised programs at the two developments, which provide supportive programs and active roles for their residents.

But federal housing polices are poised to tighten the vise on low-income families.

HUD has proposed to fund fewer Section 8 housing vouchers than currently have been issued by cities and counties to help low-income families subsidize their rent payments. Last week the department lowered the "fair rent" rate up to which it will subsidize tenants in various cities, meaning poor families will end up paying more.

The Section 8 voucher, or even a berth on a waiting list, had long been a symbol of hope for poor families, Wallis said, but when the value of the voucher is cut, "the hope disappears."

HUD's 2004 budget has yet to be approved, leaving public housing agencies uncertain on how many vouchers will be funded.

"It's so ambiguous, you can't tell what HUD is doing," said Tom Conrad, a program manager for the Dane County Housing Authority who was handing out information at Friday's gathering.

Click below for full story...

HUD secretary to speak Sunday at Sarasota rally
Sarasota Herald-Tribune (Florida)
October 8, 2004


The top official for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will visit downtown Sarasota on Sunday night to speak to a Republican Party group.

Secretary Alphonso Jackson will be the keynote speaker at the "American Dream Rally" sponsored by the SaraMana Black Republican Club.

The free event begins at 7 p.m. at the Sarasota Hyatt, 1000 Boulevard of the Arts.

Jackson was in charge earlier this year when HUD rejected the Sarasota Housing Authority's $16.6 million application to rebuild the Janie Poe public housing development.

Jackson, who has run housing authorities in Dallas and St. Louis in the past, has been in charge of HUD since March, taking over from Mel Martinez, who resigned to run for the U.S. Senate in Florida as a Republican.

Also scheduled to speak at the event is former White House speech writer John Podhoretz, author of "Bush Country."

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