Wednesday, April 05, 2017

HUD Declares Housing Authority-Owned, 38-Unit Complex Unfit For Habitation, Revokes Section 8 Contract, Sends Dozens Of Booted Low Income Tenants Scrambling For New Apartments

In Canton, Ohio, the Canton Repository reports:
  • Dayree Stokes considered her move into Washington Townehome a step up from her previous home.

    Now she and others in the 38-unit apartment complex are being forced to relocate.

    Federal housing officials say the conditions at Washington Townehomes make the northeast-section housing complex unfit for human habitation and the tenants must move out.

    The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's problem is not with the residents, but rather with the complex owner, the Stark Metropolitan Housing Authority.

    The federal HUD has maintained a Section 8 contract, formerly known as Housing Assistance Payments Contract, with SMHA. This arrangement provides vouchers to help cover the cost of providing tenants with housing. But inspections have revealed the maintenance is lacking and sanitation is unsatisfactory at the complex in the 1600 block of 10th Street NE, according to HUD.

    "They are just not up to par," said Gina Rodriguez, media relations officer for the HUD Chicago regional office. "They have been given several years to get the property up to standards. It has been at least three years that I know of. We are going to terminate the project-based Section 8 assistance and replace it with Housing Choice vouchers. We have folks on the ground that monitor this. We just felt this was the next best option to maintaining the health and safety of our residents."

    That means finding new housing for the tenants.

    The HUD Washington Townehomes housing voucher contract with SMHA for the current fiscal year was set at $271,295.

    "It was surprising," said Stokes, mother of two young children. "It has only been like seven months since I have been there. When I first moved in we had black mold in the basement."

    Vouchers

    SMHA acquired the Washington Townehomes complex in 2003.

    When the tenants relocate "depends really when people are issued vouchers," said Marty Chumney, director of the SMHA housing choice voucher program. "They have a 90-day voucher period. It is going to be over the three months that they have to find a private landlord to rent from that will accept their voucher."

    Photographs provided by the HUD Chicago office showed instances of structural damage and corrosion. Inspections were held Nov. 7, 2014, and on Nov. 17, 2015. A subsequent inspection was held Aug. 18. A letter from HUD, which came out in January, states the low inspection scores are "documenting your continued failure to correct the physical deficiencies and return the project to decent, safe and sanitary conditions."

    That letter was directed to Herman Hill, executive director of SMHA.

    "There is a shared responsibility," said Hill, explaining that Washington Townehomes tenants bear some responsibility. "We can't be there 24 hours a day. A lot of the hits that we took on inspections was the physical condition of the property."

    Revoking the Housing Assistance Payments Contract with a local housing authority "is actually something we don't do often," Rodriguez said. "It is something that we try to avoid. Who wants to go through disruptions? It is a last resort following multiple failing inspections. Because it is HUD-assisted housing, they have to maintain certain standards. It is not a decision that is taken easily."
For more, see Residents forced to leave unfit Canton housing complex (Because U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development officials are not satisfied with conditions at the Washington Townehome apartment complex, Stark Metropolitan Housing Authority has to vacate the tenants).

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