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Hidden with code "Submitted as Feature"
Commentary :: Human Rights : Politics : Social Welfare
Diversions Unlimited - Corporate greed vs housing need
25 Apr 2006
Modified: 12:40:54 PM
Subsidized housing is usually developed to provide safe, decent, affordable housing for low-income citizens; however, it has become just another form of 'corporate welfare'.
Corporate landlords should not EXCESSIVELY benefit from subsidized housing, paid in most part with tax dollars to benefit the poor. Greedy corporations and their invested partners promise low-income residents they will keep rents AFFORDABLE INTO PERPETUITY, then encourage Mass Housing (MHFA) to approve their requests to raise rents. Tenants have not been informed every step of the way. To avoid confusion, residents requested direct answers to questions be put in writing.

Rockland Place Apartments is a mixed-income, subsidized housing complex located in Rockland, Massachusetts. If Mass Housing approves the latest corporate request to raise rents, tenants will be denied any right to dispute rent increases until 2009. This automatic 3-year approval would be another way to disrespect and disempower low-income residents. For several reasons, Mass Housing (MHFA) should deny this particular 3-year increase, and grant only a 3% increase for 2006.

In 2005, the listed expenses for Rockland Place Apartments were found to be frivolous and inaccurate. Cornerstone Corporation failed to disclose property insurance information by lessor, according to Chapter 186: Section 21 of General Laws of Massachusetts. In 2006, another budget has been submitted. How accurate are these increased expenses? (As of July 6, 2006, residents still have not been provided current property insurance information, even though this request was put in writing for several years now.)

Though Rockland Place Apartments has already been awarded federal low-income housing tax credits AND $500,000.00 in state assistance for 'sweeping renovations', Connolly and Partners, LLC looks forward to the close of an additional $5.7 million in new financing with the Mass Housing Preservation Division. The existing Section 236 Mass Housing Mortgage and Mortgage Increase note will be assumed by the buyer as part of the purchase price. Will this plan really keep rents 'affordable' for current residents earning under $10,000 per year? For how long? Most excuses to raise rents were also used to receive tax credits awarded by the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD).

Upon further review, no one should doubt the Partnerships' original and scheming intent.... Rockland Place contains 193 subsidized apartments for low-income tenants. This leaves only 11 households paying full rent. How does this justify the need to run a half page ad in 'The Apartment Guide', for over one-year, requiring applicants to earn $25,000. to $77,000. per year? Why are businesses like ServiceMagic, a delicatessen, and self-storage facility listed with addresses inside this subsidized housing complex? With each request to raise rents, why are tenants denied adequate security for a safe, decent, and peaceful living environment? Years of violent assaults and attempted murders during and after times of heavy, suspicious traffic patterns on this property should make providing competent security a priority. Several of the latest fights involving adults were in March and April 2006.

February 22, 2005, while residents were unaware their homes were up for sale, Deputy Chief of Police, John Llewellyn read a letter to other Selectmen from William Connolly of Connolly and Partners, LLC. The letter requested Selectmen execute a letter to DHCD in support of a plan. The plan is to create a low-income housing tax credit partnership. Rockland Place will receive $40,000 of hard construction rehab dollars per unit. Rockland Housing Authority would become a limited partner and be named Rockland Housing Foundation, Inc. with a 1% invested interest. It also reads, this would prevent Rockland Place from spiraling downward and stop it from going bankrupt; it would turn this housing complex from a liability to an asset.

Except for on paper, has Rockland Place ever been a liability to its numerous investors? Long-time residents get confused as to which corporate name to address rent payments. Various corporate letterheads including Hannah Way Limited Partnership have been used for this subsidized housing complex. On February 27, 2006 a certificate was executed for, yet, another partnership, Rockland Place Apartments Limited Partnership, naming Julie Kaufmann as agent for service, c/o Connolly and Partners, LLC.

Robert Evans was one of the signees for the most recent requests to raise rents approximately 10% per year. He is also an executive for Cornerstone Corporation, the management company for Rockland Place Apartments since 1996. The complex failed two REAC scores from HUD in 2005, under Cornerstone's management. This corporation has not complied with lease agreements, court agreements, and laws. Cornerstone executives and employees have shown disregard for disabled persons and contempt for residents who speak out. Cornerstone CEOs are well connected. Robert L. Evans is Sr. Vice President and Partner for Nuveen Diversified Dividend Income Fund. In 1982, he was appointed Director of Housing Management for MHFA.

Who are some of the 'POTENTIAL new owners' for Rockland Place Apartments? Corporate documents for Connolly and Partners, LLC lists the names of William M. Connolly and Neil H. Ellis. According to public records for campaign contributions, William M. Connolly is a general partner of KPMG Northeast. Neil H. Ellis is a partner of First Hartford Corporation.

The website for the U.S. Department of Justice reads that KPMG has violated the FALSE CLAIMS ACT by submitting false reports to health care programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. There are numerous lawsuits accusing KPMG of FRAUD. In 2005, KPMG was ordered to pay $456 million for CRIMINAL VIOLATIONS in relation to the largest-ever tax shelter fraud case . . .

Neil Ellis was involved in lawsuits against HUD from 1992 through April 1999 ... (see Docket No. 97-6201, and Civil Action No. 92CV895 (AVC)). In summary, the Plaintiffs initiated Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings and became 'Debtors-in-Possession'. HUD, therefore, initiated administrative proceedings to suspend First Hartford, Neil Ellis, etc. from participation in future HUD programs. Allegations consisted of DIVERSION OF FUNDS. An agreement to transfer $500,000 to HUD was eventually reached.

January 2005, Neil Ellis made a 75% investment in Connolly and Partners, LLC. First Hartford's annual report reads .... This investment is to be utilized as a vehicle for First Hartford Corp. to re-enter the multi-family housing business. First Hartford is engaged in the purchase, development, ownership and management of real estate with the ultimate goal of selling such properties when profitable opportunities arise.

Whenever our United States government grants contracts or tax credits to abusive corporations or their affiliates, it opens the door to the likelihood of more waste and abuse of tax dollars, but more seriously, human rights violations. Tragically, the enforcement of our Bill of Rights, Laws, and Constitution has become income-based. As more corporations merge, American citizens are in danger of losing freedoms, rights, and protections to those who misuse their corporate and political positions.

"Preamble: The Constitution of the United States of America
We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

-- Research contributions made by the late VALERIE DAILEY
(c)2006, K.Curtis
Rockland, MA 02370

After-notes, 7-6-06:
* In June 2006, unusual notice was left in a few laundryrooms to notify all residents of an approved rent increase.
* As of July 6, 2006, residents still have not been provided current property insurance information, even though this request was put in writing for several years now.
*Management continues to enable harassment against certain tenants.
* Images of stamped documents for campaign contributions have been added to this article as evidence to author's findings regarding William M. Connolly being a partner with KPMG. Mr. Connolly and his team of experts continue to deny this KPMG connection.
Click on image for a larger version

Connolly Campaign Document KPMG -24549.gif
Click on image for a larger version

Wm connolly - FEC Doc2 -25948.gif
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