Thursday, February 23, 2017

HUD Rules Force Seneca Nation To Give Ten Senior Citizens Of Non-Native American Ancestry The Boot From Elderly Housing Authority Complex, Or Face Loss Of Funding & Fine Of Up To $500K

In Salamanca, New York, The Salamanca Press reports:
  • Ten non-Native American residents of the Seneca Nation Housing Authority’s Elderly Complex at 44 Seneca St. have been given until the end of May to vacate their apartments.

    The decision that non-Native residents could not continue to live in the elderly Seneca housing complex came after an audit last year by the Chicago office of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development office.

    Phil Pantano, a Seneca Nation spokesman, said [], “HUD officials informed the Nation that having non-Native tenants in our Seneca Housing Authority apartments was non-compliant with HUD regulations, and could result in a fine and loss of HUD funding if not addressed.”

    Pantano, who spoke with Seneca Nation Housing Authority Chairman Adrian Stevens, said, “After lengthy discussions between the Housing Authority Board and the Nation Council, the Nation decided to give the residents until May 31, 2017 to move, knowing that a loss of important funding was possible.”

    Stevens met with residents to explain the situation, Pantano said.

    “The Seneca Nation will be actively working with the City of Salamanca, other housing agencies, and local, state and federal officials to find alternate housing for the approximately 10 residents who will be affected by this mandatory action,” said Pantano.

    Sources told The Press on Monday the residents were put on notice after Thanksgiving, but have not complained publicly for fear of retaliation.

    Those who have received the notices that their leases will not be renewed range from a woman in her early 90s, who has lived there for nearly 30 years, to a resident in her 70s who has lived there for four years, according to several sources.

    Mayor Michael Smith said Tuesday he and other city officials are working very closely with Seneca Nation on the eviction issue.

    “The city and the Seneca Nation are on the same side, working against HUD,” he explained.

    Mayor Smith said the Senecas were facing a possible HUD fine up to $500,000 because non-Natives were in what HUD considered to be Native American housing.

    Mayor Smith, who is of Seneca descent, said, “It looks awful for the Nation to throw out the non-Natives.” He said the Native American HUD office in Chicago “is desperately trying to find alternate housing” for the people being evicted.

    The mayor added, “It’s almost criminal. The best we can hope for is to grandfather these people in.”
For more, see Non-Natives facing eviction from Seneca Housing over HUD rule.

For a story update, see Three elderly grandfathered in Seneca housing:
  • Three non-Native residents facing eviction from the Seneca Nation Housing Authority’s Salamanca elderly housing complex will not have to leave after all. [...] “The magic number is down to five. Three of the residents were grandfathered,” said the mayor, who was informed Friday by Adrian Stevens, executive director of the Seneca Nation Housing Authority.
    ***
    The 10 residents had been under threat of eviction at the end of May since shortly after Thanksgiving. Since last week, one person has moved to Hillview Manor, across from the Post Office, and another left public housing, Smith said.
    ***
    Last week, State Sen. Catharine Young, R-Olean, also urged HUD to relent in its pursuit of forcing the Seneca Nation Housing Authority to evict the non-Natives.

    She said, “One of the women who is being evicted has lived in the complex for nearly 30 years and she is in her 90s. Another, who has already been forced out, had to give up her companion animal of 14 years, so she could secure a new place to live.”

    “It is heartbreaking,” Young said.

    She asked HUD to grandfather in the remaining 10 residents so that they can live out their years in the housing accommodations of their choice. “I also requested that the agency not impose harsh penalties on the Seneca Nation for housing these elderly individuals,” she said.

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