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Commentary :: Human Rights : Social Welfare
Diversions Unlimited
19 Apr 2006
housing.gif
Rockland, MA--The enforcement of our Bill of Rights and United States Constitution has become income-based. When abusive, politically-connected corporations merge, individuals are in danger of losing more freedoms, rights, and protections. Who benefits most from subsidized housing complexes?

Why is enough never enough for previous and new corporate landlords at Rockland Place Apartments, located in Rockland, Massachusetts? Low-income residents received another notice for request to increase rents on April 7, 2006. If Mass Housing approves this request, low-income tenants are denied any right to dispute rent increases until 2009. While convenient for some, this approval would be another way to disrespect and disempower low-income residents. A fair and understandable request would be for 1-year at a time, from 3 to 5% for 2006.
Though Rockland Place Apartments has already been awarded federal low-income housing tax credits AND $500,000 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 $12,000 per year? Most excuses to raise rents were also used to receive tax credits awarded by the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD).

Residents at Rockland Place have not been honestly informed every step of the way. Lies have been told, and issues confused. Some promises made by new owners have already been downscaled or retracted. They've refused putting many answers to residents' questions in writing. Upon further research, there is more need for concern.

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. Two of the latest fights were 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.

Upon further investigation, every taxpayer should be concerned. 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 . . . www.usdoj.gov/opa/pr/2005/August/05_ag_433.html

Neil Ellis was involved in lawsuits against HUD from1992 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.

In 2005, the listed expenses for Rockland Place were found to be frivolous and inaccurate. In 2006, another budget has been submitted. Do these slick and financially-educated corporates even stand a chance of diverting funds, once under-educated, depressed, and oppressed residents review their budget? Obviously, low-income citizens have a genuine need for financial and legal advocates.

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 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. Every human being deserves to live in an affordable, safe, and respectable environment, especially in one of the richest countries. Let's not get sidetracked with cosmetic repairs.


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

This work licensed under a
Creative Commons license.
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Re: Diversions Unlimited
19 Apr 2006
"Every human being deserves to live in an affordable, safe, and respectable environment, especially in one of the richest countries."

This is a great opinion to have and a noble agenda, but housing isn't a guarantee to the citizens in the Bill of Rights. You have the right to pursue happiness, but you don't have the right to happiness...there is a vast difference between the two.

As of yet, the people have not granted the federal government the power to provide housing. Please explain why you believe that being a citizen of a "rich" country entitles you to live in affordable housing? Why don't you think it's your responsibility to provide yourself with affordable housing? Meaning that if you work hard and become successful, then many more housing units are affordable to you as you can afford more.

My opinion on this article is that it is using scare tactics instead of multiple examples to support your opinion.
Re: Diversions Unlimited
19 Apr 2006
That's because our dearest federal government has convinced its own people that they aren't responsible for providing or guaranteeing basic human rights such as food, shelter, and the right to live a decent life... Viva la Amerique! The only ones who have undeniable rights in these country are corporations.

See Article 25 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights:
http://www.un.org/Overview/rights.html
Re: Diversions Unlimited
19 Apr 2006
So you want to scrap our constitution and bill of rights and conform to the UN? Porbably not going to happend anytime soon. Too many of us still understand and honor our ancestors who faught long and hard to preserve our nations soveirenty.

If you like this idea as a form of society, why not move to a nation which already has this in place. France, Cuba, Canada, England all are closer to your governmental liking than the US...nobody is forcing you to live here, are they?
Re: Diversions Unlimited
19 Apr 2006
the constitution of the us has never been income based. to the extent there are income inequalities that public policy may address. the solution in the US is through legislation in Congress. The welfare and interstate commerce clauses of the constitution give Congress the right to subsidize a broad variety of income redistribution schemes. Whether Congress does this or not is of course up to Congress. Similarly, state legislatures may subsidize some groups and not others. Certain discriminations like sex and race fall for the most part in the area of equal protection constitutional law. Housing subsidies however do not.

the only "income" based provision of the Constitution is the 16th Amendment, which authorizes a graduated incometax. That amendment was supported by Woodrow Wilson and the Progressive movement and does provide for income redistribution by the tax system. That is the only specific income based provision in the Constitution.

Questions as to whether this real estate company is abusing federal funds ought to be addressed to the Congressman who represents the area of Rockland (Lynch? Frank?).

Certainly that is where a practical solution would begin. Of course if fraud is involved, that is a legal matter that would involve the US attorney. Evidence then is necessary.

A constitutional matter however it is not. The Goal should be practical assistance for the tenants, who should not be led astray by promiises of constituional protections that do not exist.
Re: Diversions Unlimited
19 Apr 2006
HUDs website DOES support the statements in this article. Subsidized housing is to provide safe, decent housing to low-income people. If this isn't true, then why have subsidized housing? Amazing how it's okay for abusive corporations to use low-income citizens as meal-tickets. They hide under numerous affiliated corporate names, by developing new names, whenever they are found guilty of FRAUD and Diversion of Funds, etc.
Re: Diversions Unlimited
19 Apr 2006
"Every human being deserves to live in an affordable, safe, and respectable environment." I believe every tenant's occupancy agreement implies this. Just read The Patriot Ledger to find some of the stories on this housing complex. Sword slashings, temple stabbings, drug traffic, and baseball bat beatings, and noisy environments are not implied in most occupancy agreements. A management company needs to do more than collect rents!
Re: Diversions Unlimited
19 Apr 2006
well, chris2, if you want the management company to provide real protection, you will have the ACLU screaming brutality and vigilantes. the poor are the primary victims fo the criminal predators and gangs.

Liberal elitists however have no practical solutions for victims. Extermination of criminals is a time tested way to prevent recidivism, bu but the American people want safety and are squeamish about doing what is necessary to achieve it.
Re: Diversions Unlimited
19 Apr 2006
Earning $25,000 or less per year makes it unlikely thay one can pay current rent and first,last and security depositas well as moving expenses at another location. When someone is trying to improve living conditions for all, being told "if you don't like it move" does not solve the problem. We have always had poor people and unfortunately have always had people who exploit themj.
Re: Diversions Unlimited
20 Apr 2006
"My opinion of Jones's comments is that he/she is either illiterate, drunk, or just plain stupid! Hey Jonesy, read much? "

Thanks, you've got every right to your name calling opinions...doesn't help to solve anything, but congrats, you have that right!!! Much like this article, however, your opinion has no factual basis to back it up, making your opinion only worth the breath it took you to utter it...maybe not even that.

Cheers!!!
Re: Diversions Unlimited
27 Apr 2006
Tax Credit Housing is an interesting phenomenon. The corporations certainly make on the deal with the US Government to invest money in affordable housing, but it is not really set up or marketed to low income households. There are usually several layers of funding along with different rent and income restrictions. The Rockland Development seems to be one such housing project. Some of the residents likely recieve federal assistance that subsidizes their rent - those tenants usually make below $20K and do not pay more than 30% of their gross household income for rent and basic utilities. The non-subsidized units that are Tax Credit units would have capped household incomes (usually mid $30K for a family of 3, and the rent is also capped, usually around $1000 for a 3 bedroom. Once a family moves in, their income can increase beyond the move-in qualifying income. This allows families to grow financially while receiving the benefits of capped rents.

I definitely agree that rent increases should be limited to once a year. Most tenants can request a lease that fixes their rent at a certain price for the term of the lease. Of course, many owners of Tax Credit Housing are out to maximize their profits, but there are many non-profit agencies who also invest in Tax Credit Housing. Those I have encountered are honestly out to provide safe, affordable housing. Which does of course cost money, which is where those corporations looking for tax breaks come in. Surely investing in affordable housing options for tax credits is better than just being gifted tax credits for, I don't know, supporting the Bush Agenda?

With all the poor apartment choices out there offered by private landlords, often at sky-rocketed prices, Tax Credit Housing offers a good alternative for working families.
Re: Diversions Unlimited
29 May 2006
What's with all the spamming? More corporate diversions?
Re: Diversions Unlimited
30 May 2006
Though I applaud any effort to expand news coverage for issues effecting our citizens, the danger of this type of "open" forum is that it is difficult to screen out "author's" with personal agendas against the general good. Ms. Curtis, author of "Diversions Unlimited", for instance, has used this forum to make unfounded attacks against one of the most respected and dedicated affordable housing developers in the field. For instance, the developer, "William Connolly" of Connolly and Parterns, LLC of Boston is not the same person as the gentleman with the same name she cites as a "General Partner of KPMG", who she alleges had been involved in a tax-shelter fraud case....Again, this is a case of mistaken identity...period. When Ms. Curtis was informed this was the case, she failed to retract this baseless attack. She further states that "lies have been told"...and "and issues confused". This is difficult to understand since Mr. Connolly and his team, of which I am part, has held over a dozen well-attended resident meetings, including three for the rent increase...But did I mention that Ms. Curtis did not even attend the first two meetings? She states a concern for security, which has been a problem, but then blames the new developer who does not even own the property yet and objects to the new budget which includes a security expense increase from less than $2,000 per year to $50.000 to hire off-duty armed local police officers to eliminate the drug dealing and violence which she complains about? Ms. Curtis benefits from the same low interest subsidy every resident at this affordability-restricted property enjoys with rents about half of those in the area. Some rents are further restricted by the state to only $525 for a one-bedroom apartment. Every single elected and appointed official in Rockland, the State Representative, the State Senator, Congressman, State Housing Finance Agency, and HUD have all understood the need to address the deteriorating conditions at this property which has not been rehabilited in 30 years...but not Ms. Curtis. When she did honor the developer with her attendance at one of the many resident meetings, she expressed her concern for "construction noise". She says we have failed to respond in writing to tenant concerns, though we have a file thick with such responses, including to her own letter to which we provided detailed responses. At one such meeting, the 99% of residents who have been pushing for the government-funded rehab plan literally shouted her down. Does she have a right to an opinion? Clearly yes..Does she have the right to directly lie about an honorable man who has spent his life dedicated to affordable housing? No. I think Ms. Curtis needs to find something more productive to do with her time and to check her facts before using McCarthy's old blacklisting methods of lies and deception in attempts to destroy the only hope for this affordable housing community in desperate need. I would suggest she put her own selfish needs aside and think of her neighbors who continue to suffer in substandard conditions while she delays seeks to delay the work all her neighbors have signed petitions for in support. Ms. Curtis asks, "why is enough never enough...for developers" My question is when is public subsidy enough for her?
Re: Diversions Unlimited
02 Jun 2006
Attempts to publicly humiliate the author is just another corporate attempt to oppress the truth, Mr. Armstrong. These underhanded tactics, though well-polished, are ineffective methods of persuasion. You have not only proven your questionnable ethics, but you successfuly insulted the intelligence of many readers.
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06 Jun 2006
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Re: Diversions Unlimited
06 Jun 2006
Dear Joe Armstrong,

I was amazed at your vicious attack on K. Curtis. We as citizens and residents of Rockland Place Apts. have every right to question and investigate who is taking over our homes. Wouldn’t we be fools if we just let anybody come in and take over? Wouldn’t you investigate someone that would be dictating your life and telling you how to live and how much to pay for rent? It is insanity to tell a complex full of people to blindly trust you. This article is what I would call research from information that is already public. If the information is incorrect you could always correct the public records.
Your response screams of corporate abuse and intimidation and the property has not yet been purchased. What can be accomplished by this format of public humiliation and turning tenant against tenant? Isn’t this also a corporate tactic of discrediting a tenant and turning all other tenants against them? Is this how we can expect to be treated when it is bought? Will we be humiliated and yelled at? Will you release personal information about us to others?
Regardless of Mr. Connolly’s involvement or lack of involvement with KPMG, I was looking forward to new management and a fresh coat of paint on this place, but now I see the same corporate insensitivity and harsh tactics of intimidation and ridicule that many people have been subject to.
Mr. Armstrong some people cannot attend all meetings. Some of us have medical disabilities and we should not have that held against us and displayed on the internet for all to see how many and which meetings we are able to attend.
We were advised by Connolly & Partners and Omni Development to go online and investigate their work and previous rehabbed apartment complexes. The so called “attack” as you call it by K. Curtis came from government documents.
If tenants are not as enthusiastic as you would like it is because we have heard this all before….especially regarding the intended security and supposed clean up of the drugs in Rockland Place. Forgive us if some are still a little skeptical.
We have been victimized, threatened and told to move if we do not like it.
We have every right to question and investigate who will be buying our homes. Many of Rockland Place residents are low income and have been stripped of all dignity and respect while living here. I am disappointed to see this representation of things to come….
The information that you provided about K. Curtis was her private and confidential information in which you had no right to expose. What the author wrote was corporate and public information. There is a difference.
I would like to leave my full name, but due to the treatment of K. Curtis, I dare not.
Re: Diversions Unlimited
18 Jun 2006
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