Friday, November 28, 2014

Landlord/Operator Of Gov't-Approved Supportive Housing Program For Homeless & Disabled Vets Tagged With Fair Housing Complaints; Management Allegedly "Segregated The Blacks From The Hispanics From The Whites" Until Catching Wind Of HUD Grievances; Then Began "Shuffling" Whites, Blacks Throughout Bldg., Says Renters' Advocate

In Denver, Colorado, The Denver Post reports:
  • For Anthony Mitchell, the Fourth Quarter Residences were a godsend, a low-rent haven for homeless and disabled veterans at a time when he and his wife were living in their car.

    Now, more than three years after residents began moving into the 36-unit complex, he and others describe a building where security is so lax that neighborhood drug addicts and prostitutes move freely through the halls, and strangers sleep in the stairwells.

    Handicapped bathrooms on the first floor are often locked, and tenants don't have access to stairs that lead between floors. Mitchell and others whose medications cause incontinence sometimes soil themselves before they can get back to their apartments.

    "In the beginning, it was lovely. It has turned into a huge crack house," said Mitchell, a veteran of the first Gulf War.

    Mitchell is among 11 tenants of the complex in Five Points who have filed Fair Housing complaints with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development against Fourth Quarter Partners LLLP, the owner, and Burgwyn Residential Management Services.

    The building is part of a supportive housing program for chronically homeless veterans that combines HUD rental assistance and Veterans Affairs' long-term case-management services to help homeless veterans.

    Among the complaints: Only African-American tenants were relegated to the fourth floor, and a property manager allegedly referred to the floor as "the black four."

    Mitchell was among them. When he first moved into the building, he and his wife lived in an apartment on the second floor, he said. Not long after their move, management asked him to move to the fourth floor, giving him only one day to vacate. When he objected, he was told he could move or be evicted.

    "The 4th floor was full (all Black) when Anthony Mitchell moved in. He was placed on the second floor. When a room opened up on the 4th floor he was ordered to move up to that floor. They segregated the Blacks from the Hispanics, from the Whites," Gary Lacefield of Lacefield & Coleman Fair Housing Advocates, the firm handling the complaint, said in an e-mail.

    Once word got out that tenants were filing complaints, the landlord began "shuffling" white and black residents to different apartments, Lacefield said.
  • VA spokesman Daniel W. Warvi said Fourth Quarter is among the many community providers it works with as part of its goal to end veteran homelessness by 2015.

    "While VA has a duty to review the care provided to our veterans by these community providers," he said, "the day-to-day operations of these facilities must be the responsibility of the providers themselves."

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