Saturday, September 17, 2016

Major Midwest Landlord Gets Tagged With Fair Housing Complaint; Owner/Operator Of Over 8,000 Rental Units Accused Of Discriminating Against Tenants With 'Big Families' (2 Adults + 3 Kids Seeking Large 2-Bedroom Apartment)

The Fair Housing Center of Southeast & Mid Michigan, a non-profit, fair housing organization, recently announced:
  • [W]e joined the Fair Housing Center of West Michigan (FHCWM) and three other fair housing groups to announce the filing of a fair housing complaint against AMP Residential, an Indianapolis-based property management company that owns and operates over 8,000 rental housing units in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Alabama.

    In each of the 20 properties named in the complaint, AMP was found to have denied housing to families with children despite the apartments having ample square footage for the family size to be allowed by local codes. Not only were the families prohibited from living in particular units, many were denied from the complex all together due to their family size.

    According to the complaint, “In the summer of 2015, after receiving a complaint that Respondent [AMP] refused to allow a woman and her husband to rent a large, two-bedroom unit because the family had three children, Complainant FHCWM opened an investigation of Respondent’s housing practices. FHCWM engaged the other Complainants to investigate Respondent’s conduct in their respective jurisdictions.

    As part of Complainants’ investigation, Complainants conducted a series of controlled tests in which testers contacted Respondent’s properties seeking to rent two-bedroom units for their families consisting of two adults and three children.”

Housing Authority Executive Director & Her Maintenance Supervisor/Hubby Cop Guilty Plea For Soliciting & Pocketing Bribes From Agency Contractors, Stealing Agency Money & Property, Among Other Things

From the Office of the U.S. Attorney (Little Rock, Arkansas):
  • [R]honda Williams, 50, and her husband, Gary Williams, 59, both of Des Arc, Arkansas, [...] pleaded guilty to a 2-count felony information, charging them with conspiracy to commit bank fraud and money laundering. In addition, they have also agreed to forfeit the proceeds of the fraud.

    Rhonda Williams was the Executive Director of the Cotton Plant Housing Authority. Gary Williams was the Housing Authority’s Maintenance Supervisor. The Housing Authority received its annual operating funds from HUD in the form of an annual distribution into its account at Signature Bank of Arkansas.

    From January 31, 2001 to December 31, 2014, the Williams conspired to execute a scheme to obtain money and property under the custody and control of Signature Bank of Arkansas by means of false and fraudulent pretenses.

    As part of the scheme to defraud, they made material misrepresentations concerning the reasons for the payment of money intended for use by the Housing Authority, solicited and accepted bribes and kickbacks from Housing Authority contractors, caused the Housing Authority to pay their personal expenses on their Housing Authority credit cards, and took Housing Authority equipment and materials and used them in the construction of their personal residence.

    As part of their plea agreements, the defendants agreed that they received more than $52,000.00 from this conspiracy. The full extent of the loss will be litigated at sentencing. The Court has not yet set a date for the sentencing hearing.

Another Local Housing Authority Official Gets Bagged For Ripping Off Agency; Former Chairman Of Board Pays $24K In Upfront Partial Restitution To Dodge Major Prison Time; Gets 30 Days In Pokey For Engaging In Sham Transaction To Pilfer $37K In Downpayment Assistance From Program He Was Not Qualified For

From the Office of the U.S. Attorney (Tacoma, Washington):
  • The former Chairman of the Board of the Chehalis Tribal Housing Authority was sentenced [] in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to thirty days in jail, two years of supervised release and $37,400 in restitution for theft from a tribal organization, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes.

    HECTOR RAY CANALES, SR., 55, pleaded guilty to conversion of tribal funds in May 2016. At the sentencing hearing U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton said CANALES had betrayed the trust of his tribe.

    According to records filed in the case, in 2009 CANALES applied for down payment assistance from the Chehalis Tribal Housing Authority knowing that he did not qualify for such assistance because he already owned a home.

    CANALES engaged in a sham transaction to transfer his existing ownership to a relative, so that he could collect $37,400 from the down payment assistance program which he used to pay for a second home in the Chehalis area.

    Even as he was “transferring” ownership of his current home, CANALES was listing the home as an asset on his mortgage application to Wells Fargo Bank. CANALES used his position in the Tribe and his knowledge of the internal fiscal controls to illegally collect the down payment funds. The fraud meant that other eligible Chehalis Tribal members did not get down payment assistance.

    CANALES has since repaid just over $24,000 to the tribe.

    The case was investigated by the Chehalis Tribal Police Department and the FBI.
Source: Chehalis Tribal Member Sentenced for Defrauding Housing Program (Former Head of Tribal Housing Authority Board Lied about Assets to Receive Tribal Housing Assistance).

Tenant Arrested For Allegedly Attempting To Dodge The Boot By Using Forged Letter Purporting To Be From Landlord Stating That Eviction Proceedings Have Been Called Off

In Cliffside Park, New Jersey, the Daily Voice reports:
  • A Cliffside Park tenant was ordered held on $15,000 bail in the Bergen County Jail after authorities charged him with forging a letter from his landlord agreeing to postpone eviction proceedings.

    Randy Brandau, 32, was arrested by detectives from the Bergen County Prosecutor’s White Collar Crimes Unit after the judge in the case contacted them, acting Prosecutor Gurbir S. Grewal said [].

    Brandau testified before the Superior Court judge in Hackensack in July that “he had received permission from his landlord to postpone eviction proceedings,” Grewal said.

    “To support his testimony, [Brandau] presented a letter to the court stating that he had permission to remain in the apartment and the letter purportedly contained the landlord’s signature,” he said.

    It was bogus, the prosecutor said.

    Brandau, who is single and unemployed, was charged with forgery and tampering with public records.

SWAT Team Called, Tear Gas Used To Coax Barricaded Home Occupant To Comply With Eviction Notice

In Butler County, Ohio, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports:
  • The Butler County Regional SWAT Team was called to a Lemon Township residence [] when a man refused to open the door to authorities attempting to serve him an eviction notice, officials said.

    Anthony Menke, 32, has been charged with obstructing official business, disorderly conduct and failure to comply, all misdemeanors.

    A Middletown City Bailiff, with the assistance of the Butler County Sheriff’s Office, attempted to serve an eviction notice to Menke [...] at approximately 11:30 a.m., according to a press release from the sheriff's office.

    Deputies said Menke "would not open the door and barricaded himself in the residence."

    The SWAT team was called and deployed tear gas into the residence then breached the back door. The sheriff's office reported that Menke surrendered at approximately 3:25 p.m.

    Menke was taken into custody without injury.

    Menke underwent a foreclosure along with his wife on their [] home in 2013, according to court documents.

Friday, September 16, 2016

ACLU Lawsuit Accuses City Agencies Of Pressuring Landlord Into Giving Tenant The Boot For Making Too Many Calls To Police; Evicted Renter Now Having Trouble Finding Another Apartment, Fears Losing Section 8 Housing Subsidy Voucher

In Burlington, Vermont, the Burlington Free Press reports:
  • A Burlington resident says in a federal lawsuit that he has been evicted from his Church Street apartment after he called the police department too many times.

    Joe Montagno, a former resident of 184 Church Street, has been unable to find another apartment and might lose his Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher, according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Burlington. His lawyer, Jay Diaz of the American Civil Liberties Union of Vermont, said Montagno spent Wednesday night in a shelter and most likely will continue living in a shelter for "the forseeable future."

    Montagno alleges the Burlington Police Department and Code Enforcement Office kept track of his calls and pressured his landlord, Joe Handy, into evicting him. Handy, through his secretary, said he was "not interested" in commenting.

    According to the lawsuit, Montagno is afraid to call the police at all.

    "Mr. Montagno requested BPD assistance on numerous occasions to report threats of bodily harm to his person, burglary, and other potentially criminal or hazardous occurrences," the lawsuit states. "Mr. Montagno is unaware of any policies, rules, regulations or laws stating when it is or is not appropriate to contact the BPD for assistance."
    Diaz, the ACLU lawyer, maintains that Montagno was punished without due process, and city agencies pinpointed him in an arbitrary manner.

    "No one would assume that calling for help with whatever problem they have is going to get them evicted," Diaz said. "We don't want people here to be unsafe."

    Montagno on several occasions worried that calling the police would result in punishment. In several instances, Montagno did not call the police "when his safety or the safety of others might be in jeopardy," the lawsuit states.

Landlord Busted For Allegedly Using Forged Documents In Eviction Actions To Illegally Give His Tenants The Boot; Suspect Used Dead Notary's Stamp When Filing Paperwork: Cops

In Plattekill, New York, The Daily Freeman reports:
  • A landlord is facing 14 felony counts, including unlawfully evicting apartment tenants, town police said [].

    Marty Soudani, 67, of Montgomery, was arrested by Plattekill police [] and was charged with seven counts of possession of a forged instrument and seven counts of offering a false instrument for filing, all felonies.

    Town police detectives arrested Soudani after an investigation found he had falsified documents in order to have tenants evicted from their apartments unlawfully, according to a press release.

    Soudini allegedly used a deceased person’s notary stamp when filing eviction paperwork.

    Police did not say where Soudani’s apartments are located.

    He was arraigned in Plattekill Town Court and released pending a further court appearance after posting $5,000 bail.

San Francisco City Attorney: Landlord's Predatory Business Model Used To Bully Tenants Into Surrendering Their Rent-Controlled Apartments "One Of The Most Ruthless In Recent Memory"; Cites "Breathtaking Cruelty" For Targeting Elderly, Disabled Renters

From the Office of the City Attorney of San Francisco, California:
  • City Attorney Dennis Herrera has sued San Francisco landlord Anne Kihagi for an egregious pattern of unlawful business practices that includes waging “a war of harassment, intimidation, and retaliation” against tenants to force them from their rent-controlled homes. Once vacated, according to Herrera’s complaint, Kihagi offers the apartments to new tenants at substantially higher rents.

    But the full scope of related violations and appalling tactics employed by Kihagi, her business associates and companies under their control — as detailed in the 38-page complaint filed in San Francisco Superior Court [] — distinguishes their predatory business model as one of the most ruthless in recent memory. Herrera’s office continues to investigate possible wrongdoing among the more than 50 rent-controlled apartments Kihagi has acquired in San Francisco since 2013. But the investigation has already established compelling and actionable evidence of illegal tactics to bully tenants into surrendering their rent-controlled apartments. At least six elderly and disabled renters were among those targeted for harassment by Kihagi or her agents, according to the complaint, including a 65-year-old Army veteran battling cancer, a 71-year-old retired school crossing guard, and a bedridden 91-year-old great grandmother.

    Herrera’s civil suit alleges that Kihagi or her agents: interrupted gas, electric, water, and cable service; disrupted mail service; failed to cash rent checks, only to later claim them as untimely rent payments; backdated correspondence and notices; violated tenants’ privacy by entering their apartments without required notice; refused to timely abate unsafe and substandard habitability conditions; and even retaliated against tenants who cooperated with city inspectors by installing video surveillance cameras aimed at the residents’ front doors.

    Well-known among tenants for her harassing text messages and shrieking, expletive-ridden personal interactions, Kihagi is even reported to have made an apparent threat against a tenant’s cat, urging the resident to be careful “because someone might let her out.”
For more, see Herrera sues landlord Kihagi for harassing, displacing tenants from rent-controlled homes (Calling defendant ‘among the most abusive and lawless landlords I’ve encountered,’ City Attorney cites ‘breathtaking cruelty’ for targeting elderly, disabled renters).

For the lawsuit, see People v. Kihagi.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Landlord Faces Theft By Deception Charges For Allegedly Pocketing Rents, Security Deposits For Two Condemned Properties She Owned, Then Refusing To Refund Tenants' Money When Given Chance To Do So

In West Hazelton, Pennsylvania, the Standard-Speaker reports:
  • A landlord faces criminal charges after allegedly accepting rent money for two condemned properties she owns and not refunding the payments once the occupants found out they were condemned.

    West Hazleton police said Margarita Murarescu, 65, of McKinley Street, Hazleton, entered into lease agreements with two separate parties for a double home she owns [...]. She accepted security deposits for each however, the properties were condemned by West Hazleton since October 2014 and as such couldn’t be occupied.

    As police investigated the two complaints, they gave Murarescu a chance to refund the money she took but as of her arrest [], arrest papers state, she failed to do so.

    Murarescu was charged with two counts each theft by deception and receiving stolen property, all misdemeanors.

    She was arraigned [] by Magisterial District Judge Daniel O’Donnell, Sugarloaf Township, who set bail at $20,000 and unable to immediately post the money, she was taken to jail.

    A couple told police they paid Murarescu a total of $1,400 for a security deposit to rent 505 N. Broad St., in August and on Aug. 14 were given a key and permission to move in the following day, police said. Arrest papers state the victims were preparing to rent a moving van Aug. 15 when Murarescu called them stating they couldn’t move in until Aug. 19 because the building wasn’t inspected yet.

    Fearing something wasn’t right, the victims called West Hazleton Code Enforcement that day only to find the property was condemned nearly two years ago and condemnation notices on the building were taken down by someone.

    The following day another victim called police stating he and a friend rented the neighboring property at 507 N. Broad St. and paid Murarescu $1,800 on May 3. They too signed a lease agreement and moved in shortly after. A few days later they were contacted by borough code enforcement who notified them that they needed to vacate the property because it was condemned, court records state.

    In both cases Murarescu gave the victims receipts for their payments, police wrote, and in both cases the renters were left without a home they paid for.

Despite Four Years Of Prompt Rent Payments, Paraplegic Dad & Family To Get The Boot Out Of Wheelchair-Accessible Home After Bank Foreclosed On Rent-Skimming Landlord

In Medford, Oregon, KTVL-TV Channel 10 reports:
  • After years of paying rent every month, a bank is kicking a Medford family out of their home because their landlord did not pay the mortgage for six years.

    Father and tenant Kevin Airrington said he has paid his rent every month in full for the last four years he has lived there. He said he feels taken advantage of, but also feels guilt.

    "I think I've failed as a dad because I'm the one that moved us here," Airrington said. "I'm the one that made that decision to move us here, and now I've got my kids in a situation that's not good."

    Not only is Airrington a father of three, but he is paraplegic and on a fixed income. The reason he chose the home he currently rents four years ago was not only because of the size for his children and him, but also the location. He does not drive, so they are able to get everywhere they need walking next to their father. They are a few blocks away from the grocery store, the hospital, their church and other important places in their lives.

    In addition, the home they are in has all of the modifications needed for someone with a wheelchair. For example, it is an open floor plan with a ramp and has wider doors so he can get in and out of rooms while in his chair.

    News10 did reach out to Kevin's landlord, Johnathon Gray. He chose to not comment on the issue.

    For now, the Airrington family is looking for a new place to go, but because of the modifications and other things the family needs in a home, he said this is making the search much harder, especially during the rental crisis.

    Sterling West Property Management said what the landlord did is legal, and it does happen. If someone else finds themselves in a situation like this, the property management company recommends seeking legal counsel.

Tenants In Once-Grand, Now-Deteriorating Art Deco South Bronx Building Score Win As Judge Strips Operational Control Of Rat-Infested Premises From Foreclosure-Facing Landlord, Hands Over Reins To Temporary Receiver To Begin Making Long-Needed Emergency Repairs

In The Bronx, New York, DNAInfo reports:
  • Tenants of a notorious building run by a controversial landlord in the South Bronx could finally start seeing some repairs after years of fighting.

    Residents of 888 Grand Concourse have been engaged in a lengthy battle with their landlord Tiny Fiesta Realty Associates LLC over problems with rodents, elevators, heat and hot water, and a judge recently authorized a temporary receiver to start making essential repairs to the building.

    The order gives the court-appointed receiver, Bronx attorney Christopher Marengo, the authority to make all necessary repairs at 888 Grand Concourse without prior court approval and allows tenants to prioritize the order of these repairs, which include weatherizing the building's exterior, fixing the boiler and fixing the elevators.

    It also denies a motion for foreclosure on the building and says that Marengo will be in charge of collecting rent. He will also be allowed to ask for another court order letting him collect money from Tiny Fiesta Realty to make the necessary repairs.

    Tiny Fiesta Realty had been run by Louis Bombart, but he recently passed away, according to Carmen Vega-Rivera, president of the tenant association at 888 Grand Concourse. His son Jonathan Bombart is believed to be running the company now.
    Tenants [] launched a rent strike on Feb. 1 to prevent Tiny Fiesta Realty from keeping control of the property during foreclosure proceedings.

    The building currently has 251 open violations with the Department of Housing Preservation and Development and 165 open violations with the Department of Buildings, all of which Marengo will be required to correct.

    Vega-Rivera said the receiver being appointed was a big victory for her, especially given how long she has been working to improve living conditions at her home.

    "I’ve been in the building since '81 and working in the community since '79," she said, "so I know firsthand what this building was, could be, should be, and what they've done to this building."

    "Today was a huge victory moment," she continued, "and it’s also sending a message to my neighbors and the community at large that they shouldn’t give up."
For more, see Judge Takes Away Building From Absentee Landlord For Emergency Repairs.

For an earlier post on this story, see Some Residents Of Once-Grand, Now Rat-Infested Six-Story Art Deco South Bronx Building Declare Organized Rent Strike (Risking Eviction, Group Looks To Turn The Tables On Foreclosure-Facing Landlord By Financially Squeezing Him In Campaign To Give Him The Boot).

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Lawsuit: Weeks After Paying $1.25 Million For Their Units, Buyers Were Blocked From Moving In When Subsequent Top Floor Explosion Blew Out Walls Throughout Building, Causing City To (Temporarily) Revoke Certificate Of Occupancy For Newly-Constructed Luxury Condo Tower

In Sunny Isles Beach, Florida, The Real Deal (South Florida) reports:
  • Two unit owners at Chateau Beach Residences have sued the developer and contractor over delays linked to an explosion at the Sunny Isles Beach luxury condominium tower last year.

    The lawsuit was filed [] in Miami Dade Circuit Court by 1103 Chateau Beach LLC and 1003 Chateau Beach LLC (owners of units 1103, 1003) “and all similarly situated unit owners” against Chateau Beach LLC and Coastal Construction of South Florida. The suit seeks unspecified compensation for alleged loss of use of their million dollar-plus condos.

    Chateau Beach Residences, a 34-story beachfront condo tower at 17475 Collins Avenue, received its certificate of occupancy in August 2015, according to the suit. In September 2015, the condo units were conveyed to the unit owners.

    But on Oct 2, 2015, an explosion occurred on the top floor of the tower, which blew out walls throughout the building.

    As a result of the explosion, the city of Sunny Isles Beach revoked the condominium tower’s certificate of occupancy, and the building continued to be “unsafe for occupancy” until June 2016, the suit says.

    “This loss of use has [led] to economic damages and special damages,” the suit alleges.

    Records show the owners of units 1103 and 1003 each paid $1.25 million for their units in September 2015. The registered agent for both entities is a lawyer.

    The Chateau Group, led by Manuel Grosskopf, developers of the project, as well as the soon-to-be-completed Fendi Chateau, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
For more, see Unit owners at Chateau Beach sue developer, contractor for delays due to explosion (After Oct. 2015 explosion, building's TCO was revoked and it was deemed unsafe until June).

NY Developer With Dubious History Of Peddling Condos In Allegedly Shoddy Buildings Gets Tagged Again In Miami Lawsuit; HOA Says It Discovered Latent Defects In 67-Story, 292-Unit Luxury Complex After Builder Relinquished Control Of Premises

In Miami, Florida, The Real Deal (South Florida) reports:
  • The New York-based developers of downtown Miami’s Marquis Miami residences are being accused of building a poorly constructed tower in a new lawsuit.

    And now, the Marquis Miami Condominium Association wants a partnership between Shaya Boymelgreen and Lev Leviev, as well as the construction companies they hired, to foot the bill for an array of repairs throughout the building including common areas and individual units.

    In lawsuit filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court last month, the condo association is seeking unspecified damages against Boymelgreen and Leviev, general contractor KM/Plaza and two affiliated companies, and six subcontractors for allegations of breach of contract, negligence, and violations of Florida’s building code.
    Located at 1100 Biscayne Boulevard, Marquis Miami is a 67-story luxury condominium once home to former Miami Heat player Mario Chalmers. When it was first announced in 2011, prices for the 292 units started at $590,000 for a 1,477-square-foot two-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath residence. A duplex penthouse was listed for $2.2 million.

    According to the lawsuit, the condo association discovered construction defects not visible to the human eye after Boymelgreen and Leviev relinquished control of the building. The defects were found in the roof, structural components, post-tension cable assemblies, the plumbing, and the fire and life-safety system, among others. The complaint also alleges subcontractors installed incompatible pipes in the sprinkler system that over time will degrade and fail.

    Boymelgreen and Leviev are no strangers to controversy. Earlier this year, the duo reached a settlement with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman regarding an investigation into three Boymelgreen and Leviev condo projects in the Financial District and DUMBO. The attorney general’s probe determined Boymelgreen and Leviev built shoddy structures, falsified documents to get approval from code inspectors and stole condo buyers’ money, among other alleged crimes.

    Last month, Schneiderman settled another investigation into Boymelgreen regarding unfinished work at six of his projects in Brooklyn and Manhattan and his refusal to fix construction defects. Under the terms of the settlement, Boymelgreen agreed to fix the construction problems and take care of building violations. He’s also banned from selling condos in New York for two years.
For the story, see Marquis Miami condo owners accuse developers of poor construction (Defects were found in the roof, structural components, plumbing and more: lawsuit).

Lawsuit: Mortgage Lender Forced Home Into Foreclosure By Refusing To Accept House Payments From Deceased Borrower-Homeowner's Son

In Beckley, West Virginia, the West Virginia Record reports:
  • A deceased man's son is suing a mortgage lender, citing alleged illegal servicing practices.

    Thomas Atkins II, individually and as administrator of the estate of Thomas W. Atkins, filed a complaint on Aug. 22 in Raleigh Circuit Court against Nationwide Advantage Mortgage Company, alleging that the mortgage lender violated the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act.

    According to the complaint, the plaintiff alleges that he paid monthly mortgage installments under the 2007 mortgage loan made to his father, Thomas W. Atkins, who died in August 2014. After some time, he asked the defendant to add him as an authorized person on the account and begin the steps to substitute him as the liable party, he alleges. The plaintiff holds Nationwide Advantage Mortgage Company responsible because the defendant allegedly refused to accept further payments and stopped communicating with him about the mortgage. The mortgage became delinquent and the defendant ordered foreclosure of the home by trustee's sale, the suit claims.

    The plaintiff requests a trial by jury and seeks an order enjoining the defendant from the allegedly illegal practice, compensatory damages, attorney's fees, costs and such other relief. He is represented by Gary M. Smith of Mountain State Justice Inc.(1) in Charleston.
Source: Deceased man's son alleges law violation by mortgage company.
(1) Mountain State Justice is a West Virginia-based, non-profit legal services firm dedicated to providing civil legal services to thousands of low-income West Virginians, regardless of ability to pay, fighting to protect their families, their homes, their health and safety, and their livelihoods.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

High-Interest Home Improvement Financing, Local Mortgage Broker/Contractor, Real Estate Contracts Designed To Fail At Center Of Alleged Ripoff That Left Some San Antonio Homeowners With Shoddy Repairs, Deeply In Debt & In Fear Of Possible Foreclosure

In San Antonio, Texas, the San Antonio Express-News reports:
  • Dreams of a better home led more than 50 San Antonio homeowners to take high-interest loans from local mortgage broker Fred Hobbs to hire his contracting company to fix their foundations, replace their wiring or add a new bathroom, among other improvements.

    But in many cases, Hobbs’ companies left them deeply in debt and with their homes in worse shape than before, with cracked walls, leaky roofs, tilting floors, and faucets and electrical outlets that don’t work, according to two lawsuits and interviews with another eight homeowners.

    Two borrowers lost their homes after struggling to repay the loans, and others have been threatened with foreclosure. Many say they have paid thousands out of their own pockets to fix the work after Hobbs’ company, Texas Home Restoration, refused to help.

    “Every time I find something new, I get so angry and tell my husband, ‘What are we going to do?’” said Mary Luis, 69, who took a $21,000 loan from the company in 2011 to build a handicap bathroom for her elderly mother.

    Shortly after the bathroom was finished, frogs and lizards started coming into the shower through a crack in the wall, Luis said. The grout crumbled and the roof started leaking, ruining one of the walls and the carpet in an adjacent room. She and her husband say they have spent more than $5,000 to repair the work on their South Side home.
    Other homeowners share similar stories. West Side couple Graciela and Richard Muñoz said their home began tilting a year after they took out an $18,900 loan from the company to fix their foundation and replace their wiring. Another West Sider, Alma Santos, said she had to spend another $28,000 to level her home after she paid almost $29,000 to Texas Home Restoration, which failed in its attempt.

    Leonard Sanchez said he borrowed $39,000 for the company to repaint his house and make other repairs, but the contractors used spray paint that quickly began peeling and patched his roof with old wood that ended up cracking.

    Elaine Castro and her husband, who took out a $32,420 loan for a wholesale restoration of their home, say they’ve resorted to using their shower to wash their hands and brush their teeth after Hobbs’ contractors bungled their plumbing. They can’t afford to fix it.

    Perhaps the most striking story comes from Gloria Revillas, who said Texas Home Restoration left the foundation of her West Side home in such bad shape that the floor became crooked, forcing her and her husband to spend more to fix it. The episode caused her 76-year-old husband so much stress that she believes it contributed to his two recent heart attacks, she said.
    The two homes that Hobbs’ companies foreclosed on have ended up in the hands of Jack Markman, a Houston property owner who has been accused in numerous lawsuits over the past 15 years of trapping low-income customers in property contracts that are designed to fail.

    Markman entered the San Antonio market last fall by partnering with Hobbs to buy homes; he told the Express-News he plans to buy and flip between 100 and 200 homes in inner-city San Antonio.

    He has bought another two of Texas Home Restoration’s contracts from Hobbs, meaning that if those properties go into foreclosure, he will have a chance to snatch them up.
    Texas Home Restoration has been sued twice. [...] Both lawsuits claim that Texas Home Restoration didn’t take out the proper permits for the renovation work. A search of the city’s permit database shows that many renovation projects funded by Hobbs’ company never received permits.

    Hobbs said in an interview that his company and its contractors always obtained the proper permits when the scope of the work required it.

    Some homeowners who have taken loans from Hobbs accuse his companies of sloppy record-keeping. [Alma] Santos, the West Side homeowner who borrowed money to level her home, said the company hasn’t let her see how much of the loan she has paid off.

    Becky Valdez, who took a loan to level her South Side home, said the company unexpectedly raised her monthly payments from the low $400s to the high $700s. Hobbs’ companies have failed to provide amortization schedules and payment notes when requested, she said. She and her husband had to dip into a 401(k) retirement account to make payments after the company threatened foreclosure.

    The couple has decided to sell their home “because we just don’t want to deal with them anymore,” Valdez said. “We just don’t.”
For more, see Texas Home Restoration offered high-cost loans, shoddy repairs, lizards, homeowners say (Restoration company accused of fleecing homeowners).

Dozens Fleeced Out Of Their Downpayment Money In San Antonio Real Estate Financing Theft; Victims Entered Into Unconventional Transactions Without Reputable Attorneys, Escrow/Title Agents To Hold Cash

In San Antonio, Texas, KENS-TV Channel 5 reports:
  • Police say dozens of people claim they've lost thousands of dollars, money they had saved to make down payments on their homes.

    Kyle and Karen McGlotten said they found the perfect investment property with the help of Century 21 Northside. To finance it, the McGlottens said their real estate agent introduced them to Ray Stanziola from TG Wealth, with whom they filled out an application for a loan.

    The McGlottens said Stanziola asked them for cashier's checks for $15,000, a 10 percent down payment on the house made out to a company called Infinite Properties.

    "Up until that time, the only company that we knew about was TG Wealth, so we thought they were the only one who was giving us the loan. We didn't know about Infinite Properties until that day," Karen McGlotten said.

    That's when the McGlottens said the problems started. They said the funding never came through, and the sellers on that investment property decided to go with a different buyer.

    The McGlottens said they then tried to track down Ray Stanziola from TG Wealth to get a refund on their deposit, but they said Stanziola told them he didn't know what happened to their money.

    The McGlottens said that's when he stopped answering their phone calls.

    Kyle McGlotten said he was able to get someone from Infinite Properties in McAllen on the phone with him and he said he would give him his money back. They then went back to Century 21 Northside and that's when they said they found out they weren't the only ones complaining about Infinite Properties.

    The manager of Century 21 told KENS 5's Eyewitness Wants to Know over the phone that at least six other clients gave money to Infinite Properties between May and August, and that money disappeared.

    One of those clients is Steve Thacher, who says he wired $150,000 -- his life savings -- to Infinite Properties, and they never gave the money to the seller.(1)

    "I'm very worried to lose the house," he said. "My kids, they're all sad. My fiancee is sad. We're heartbroken. That was my dream house."

    Eyewitness Wants to Know met with Thacher's real estate agent to find out what happened. The agent said his office did their due diligence. They thought Infinite Properties had been pre-approved for a $10 million loan.
For more, see Dozens tell police they've lost thousands in mortgage fraud scandal.
(1) See Man says he lost $150K in home-buying nightmare (Steve Thatcher may have to leave his dream home):
  • A man says he's out $150,000 and fears he may soon be forced out of his dream home in Devine. "They need to get caught," Steve Thatcher said.

    Thatcher is referring to whoever has the thousands of dollars he wired as a down payment on the house he's currently living in. The seller allowed him to rent the home during the buying process.

    "To me, this was going to be my first home that I was buying for my family, my kids. My dream home," Thatcher said.

    When efforts by Thatcher's Realtor to finance traditionally failed, the pair were referred by a local mortgage broker to Infinite Properties, a company that is allegedly in McAllen in the Rio Grande Valley.

    Thatcher said the down payment he sent the company apparently never made it to the seller. "We've all been victimized. My heart goes out more to the homeowner," Joseph Cuellar, Thatcher's Realtor, said.

    Cuellar said his real estate office is aware of 10 clients who allegedly lost money to Infinite Properties. KSAT-12 News called several phone numbers given to us for the company but couldn't reach anyone.

    "They need to go to jail, prison, and I hope they do," Thatcher said.

    Thatcher's fiance filed a report with the Devine Police Department. Officers referred them to the San Antonio Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

    Thatcher is looking for legal representation. In the meantime, he's renting the Devine home again.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Judge Denies ACLU's Request To Temporarily Halt Detroit-Area Tax Foreclosures, But Green-Lights Lawsuit Alleging That Wrongly-Inflated Property Assessments, Convoluted Process Of Obtaining Poverty Tax Exemptions Led To Impoverished Detroiters To Lose Their Homes To Foreclosure

In Detroit, Michigan, the Detroit Free Press reports:
  • Wayne County's tax foreclosure auctions will continue in light of a judge's ruling [] in a class-action lawsuit the ACLU of Michigan brought this summer to address Detroit's foreclosure crisis.

    Wayne County Treasurer Eric Sabree, who was named as a defendant in the lawsuit, said he was pleased with the ruling from Wayne County Circuit Chief Judge Robert Colombo Jr. on a motion from the ACLU to halt the auctions.

    "The judge's ruling will allow the Wayne County Treasurer's office to move forward as mandated and authorized by state law to auction homes for unpaid property taxes," Sabree said in a statement released this afternoon.

    Despite the judge's ruling today, the ACLU of Michigan remains confident it ultimately will prevail in stopping certain tax foreclosures. The organization noted that Colombo [] denied the City of Detroit's motion to dismiss the case. The judge took under advisement a similar motion from Wayne County.

    The lawsuit, whose plaintiffs include the Morningside Community Organization, Historic Russell Woods-Sullivan Area Association, Oakman Boulevard Association and Neighbors Building Brightmoor, sought a moratorium on foreclosure of owner-occupied properties, citing improperly denied poverty exemptions. The suit also alleged the foreclosures disproportionately affected African Americans and that tax bills were wrongly inflated because of assessments that were simply too high.

    Specifically, the lawsuit claimed, thousands of Detroit homeowners who qualified for a poverty exemption excusing them from paying property taxes were unlawfully prevented from obtaining that exemption because of "needlessly complex and impenetrable application procedures improperly administered by the City of Detroit and the Detroit Citizens Board of Review."

    According to the City of Detroit, in 2014, 4,214 homeowners applied for the exemption with 3,678 receiving full exemptions, 127 receiving 50% exemptions, and 409 being denied. To qualify for a full exemption, income can't exceed $16,660 for a household of one, or $19,950 for a household of two.

    We’re extremely pleased that the judge ruled that our case against the City of Detroit may go forward," ACLU of Michigan Legal Director Michael Steinberg said. "Thousands of impoverished Detroiters have lost their homes over the past few years because the process for obtaining poverty exemptions is so convoluted. We are confident we can put an end to this injustice.”

Developer Who Bought Nursing Home, Then Kicked Out Over 100 Elderly Residents To Convert Facility Into Luxury Condos Finally Forks Over $3.35 Million To Five Holdouts Who Refused To Leave

In Park Slope, Brooklyn, DNAInfo (New York) reports:
  • The assisted living facility owner who's been trying to kick elderly residents out of his building so it can be turned into luxury condos has finally forked over $3.35 million he was ordered to pay five women who refused to leave, lawyers for the seniors announced [].

    After failing to meet a deadline to pay part of the $3.35 million court settlement in July, owner Haysha Deitsch handed over the money on Aug. 26, lawyers for the women said.

    "The Legal Aid Society is pleased that through our legal intervention, the landlord finally complied with the settlement making it possible for the brave elderly residents of Prospect Park Residence to relocate to appropriate locations," said Judith Goldiner, attorney-in-charge of the Civil Law Reform Unit of The Legal Aid Society and the lead attorney on the case.

    The payment marks a victory for the remaining residents of Prospect Park Residence, who've been battling Deitsch in court since 2014, when he announced that the facility would close and told seniors they had 90 days to leave.

    Many of the 140 residents moved out, but several, including a Holocaust survivor and a Tuskegee Airman, refused to leave. Some have since passed away, but five women still remain at the facility, which is on valuable real estate overlooking Grand Army Plaza.

    The women agreed to leave by Aug. 31 after Deitsch agreed to the $3.35 million settlement in June. But Deitsch missed a July deadline to pay part of the settlement. In response, the women's lawyers threatened to go after Deitsch's assets, which include property on Fourth Avenue where he plans to build luxury condos.

    "The courageous seniors of the Prospect Park Residence stood up for two-and-a-half years in the face of Haysha Deitsch's appalling avarice and cowardice," said City Councilman Brad Lander. "After months of Deitsch's typical greedy efforts to make even more money without regard for the cost to our seniors, we are relieved that he has finally complied."

    Representatives for Deitsch did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

    Though the legal battle between the remaining residents and Deitsch is over, lawyers for the elderly residents said they'll continue their lawsuit against the state Department of Health, which oversees the facility and approved Deitsch's plan to close it.

    "While this is a good day for the remaining PPR residents, it remains deeply disappointing that that the NYS Department of Health gave no support or protection to 130 elderly New Yorkers, whose health was put at risk by a developer who chose to willfully close this assisted living program and evict seniors without notice just to make a buck through condo-conversion," Lander said. "New York needs better public policy to protect our seniors from greed."
For the story, see Assisted Living Facility Owner Finally Pays $3.35M to Seniors He Kicked Out.

See also: 3.35M Settlement Payment Finally Resolves the Prospect Park Residence Lawsuit:
  • [A]fter The Legal Aid Society, MFY Legal Services and Fitzpatrick, Cella, Harper & Scinto made motions to attach the landlord’s assets at PPR and at other locations owned by the landlords, the landlord finally made the deposit of the money on August 26, 2016.

Notorious Payday Lender That Used 'Rent-A-Tribe' Racket To Purportedly Claim Sovereign Immunity & Avoid State Usury Laws When Peddling Excessively High-Interest Loans Takes Another Hit; Court Disregard "Tribal Mode", Finds Outfit & Company Founder Personally Liable For Violations Of Law

From Public Citizen's Consumer Law & Policy Blog:
  • [Late last month], a federal district court in California handed the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau a victory in its lawsuit against consumer lender CashCall. The court's ruling grants the CFPB partial summary judgment on its claim that CashCall committed deceptive acts in violation of the Consumer Financial Protection Act by collecting illegal interest charges from its customers.

    The court's decision rejects CashCall's "tribal model" of lending, in which it sought to evade the application of state usury laws by using a company based on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation to originate its loans and claiming that tribal law, not state law, governed the loans.

    In its ruling, the district court held that although the loans were purportedly made by the tribal company (Western Sky) and then sold to CashCall, the true lender was CashCall, because under the arrangement between the companies, it was CashCall's money that was at risk.

    Thus, the court held, there was no basis for applying tribal law to the loans because the loan transactions bore no substantial relationship to the tribe. State usury laws therefore applied. Under those laws, the loans' interest rates, with APRs well into the triple digits, were illegal. And, the court ruled, telling consumers they were obligated to pay illegal interest is a deceptive act under federal law. The court also held CashCall's founder personally liable for the violations.

    The CashCall/Western Sky shenanigans have produced a mountain of litigation, including state enforcement actions and a number of decisions addressing the purported requirement in loan agreements that borrowers have to make any claims through tribal arbitration processes (which don't even exist). The CFPB's victory may be a step toward finally resolving the issues raised by CashCall's actions.

    However, CashCall has litigated the case vigorously and may well appeal once there is a final judgment in the case. Yet to be determined by the trial court are remedies for the violations.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Housing Authority Pulls Residential Building's Section 8 Rent Subsidies When Landlord Fails Compliance Inspections After Being Ordered To Make Repairs; Dozen Low-Income Families Left Scrambling For New Apartments; One Tenant's Complaint Triggered Maintenance Inspection That Led To Eviction

In San Antonio, Texas, KABB-TV Channel 29 reports:
  • An apartment complex loses government funds, leaving a dozen families and residents to find somewhere else to live.

    The residents at the Plaza Apartments on Euclid Avenue just north of downtown are turning to the city's housing authority for help.

    The San Antonio Housing Authority cut off assistance here after the property owners failed to make repairs during compliance inspections.

    At the end of July, SAHA gave people living here Section Eight housing vouchers to relocate.

    Those last for two months, but the property managers only gave them to the end of August to move out.
    SAHA inspectors first looked into the property on June 23 due to a complaint filed by a client. The inspection found multiple quality deficiencies and gave the landlord three weeks to fix them.

    But the Plaza Apartments failed a second inspection.

    SAHA says it issued Section 8 vouchers to most families the next week.

    “SAHA gives you a 60-day voucher to move and we only have 30 days to get out of these apartments," said [tenant Victoria] Lucio.

    Lucio, a single mom with a four-year old son, says they got notices from the property managers saying they had to be moved out by the end of August.

    “We're just asking for some kind of help,” said Alicia Saenz, who has lived at Plaza Apartments for four years. “Something to help us just to get us and our kids in another safe home."

    While Saenz is grateful for the vouchers, she along with other residents are asking SAHA to help cover moving expenses.

    “A family that's already living paycheck to paycheck as it is to come up with that much money in 30 days is impossible," said Saenz.

    In a statement SAHA says, “…we can't allow our clients to remain in units that are not decent, safe, and sanitary. We are diligently working with the individuals and reaching out to multiple service organizations to provide transitional support."

    Back in 2010, a spokesperson says SAHA helped with moving expenses for one of their properties but they have not made the same decision for the Plaza Apartments.

    However, SAHA has opted to allow the owner of these apartments to correct the violations. Which means the units could be leased to clients in the future.

Over 300 Residents In Virginia Trailer Park To Get The Boot Over Failed Water & Sewer System, Forcing Lot-Leasing Homeowners To Walk Away From Their 'Piece Of The American Dream'; City: Despite Uncorrected Health Code Violations, No Immediate Shutdown Forthcoming - Everyone Gets Six Months Notice To Relocate

In Manassas, Virginia, reports:
  • Manassas City officials agreed to pay $1.9 million for a property that is now home to a trailer park with a failed water and sewer system.

    The water and sewer system at the East End Mobile Home Park, located 9021 and 9021A Centreville Road failed. The current owner of the property did not make the needed repairs to the water and sewer system and agreed to sell the property to the city.

    More than 300 people who make up the families who live in the 58 trailers at the park will lose their homes. Notices posted today on doors at the trailer park by the current property owner East End Mobile Home Park, LLC give the residents six months to vacate their trailers.
    The trailer park is home to multiple Hispanic families who came to speak about the issue at the Aug. 22 Manassas City Council meeting. With the help of an English-speaking 10-year-old boy, residents told City Council members they were scared and confused about what was going to happen to their homes, and that they had not been given any information about the sale from the trailer park owner.

    Residents of the trailer park had been represented by Maryland-based CASA, an organization tasked with “improving the quality of life in low-income immigrant communities,” according to its website. Organization spokeswoman Fernanda Durand on Thursday, Aug. 25 told that the organization, nor the residents of the trailer park wish to speak to the press.

    In an about-face, the organization held a late-afternoon news conference at the trailer park on Monday. learned of the press conference only moments before it was to begin and was not able to attend.

    The water and sewer issues at the East End Trailer Park date back to 2008.

    “The sewer system is failing, and has failed, the property owner was told to fix the system for years and did not,” said Manassas City Economic Development Director Patrick Small.

    City officials retain the authority to go to the trailer park and close it immediately due to health code violations, but will not.

    “If the city went in and shut down the trailer park and enforced the laws and ordinances we have on the books, it would immediately displace 60 families,” said Small. “What is important now is that we have an orderly transition of residents moving our and finding new homes rather than turning the water sewer off.”

    At the August 22 Manassas City Council meeting, a representative from CASA told residents were working with the city to receive up to $1,200 of financial assistance per family, for each displaced family. That claim was incorrect, said Small, because there is, to date, no city assistance fund for displaced families.

    Once the families move away [...], the trailers will be removed, and the city will clean up the failed water and sewer system. Afterward, the city may choose to develop the properly or sell the land.

    Currently, the failed sewer system collects hundreds of thousands of gallons of rainwater each time it rains. That water is then mixed with sewage and then sent to the Upper Occoquan Service Authority for treatment.

    “Instead of sending only sewage, were also sending stormwater and that can overwhelm the system,” added Small.
Source: Manassas to pay $1.9 million for failed trailer park, families displaced.

See also, The Washington Post: Nowhere to go: Manassas trailer park residents face eviction:
  • [R]esidents said there are no other mobile home parks in the area that will accept their older-model trailers. They also said they lack the thousands of dollars it would take to move the structures elsewhere.
    [Housing advocate] Fernanda Durand said it will be difficult for people who live at the park to find a new site for their mobile homes or an affordable apartment in increasingly expensive Prince William County.

    “Mobile homes are an inexpensive alternative for people living paycheck to paycheck,” she said. “The little money these people have managed to save will be wiped out in one fell swoop. . . The city really needs to do something to help housing for low-income people.”

    Alejandra Tovar, a restaurant worker, said she has sought answers from the city and the property manager, to no avail.

    “I’m worried that I’ve invested a lot of money in my home, all my savings,” she said of the mobile home where she has lived for the past two years. “The owners, the city are taking no responsibility.”

    She and other residents said they want the city to fix the sewer lines and allow the mobile trailers to remain.

    Mike Watson, who has lived at the park for almost 14 years, said he owes $25,000 on his mobile home. He estimated that it would cost him about $20,000 to move the trailer, if he could find a place to put it.
See also, WUSA-TV Channel 9: Va. families struggle to save homes: ‘We're losing our piece of the American Dream':
  • Scores of families in Manassas are struggling to save their homes.

    The company that owns the land under their mobile homes is selling out to the city for nearly $2 million. But many of the families are likely to lose all the money they've spent buying their trailers at the East End Mobile Home Park.
    To move a double wide trailer, you'd have to cut it in half, remove water, sewer and electrical hook-ups, and then haul it down the road. It can cost tens of thousands of dollars, if it's structurally sound and you can find a place to put it.

Final Residents Vacate Miami-Dade Mobile Home Park As Community Catering To Low-Income Hispanic & Haitian Immigrants Gets Pushed To The Side To Make Way For Redevelopment; Group Of Former Lot-Leasing Homeowners Received $8K Lawsuit Settlement Per Household To Resolve Allegations That Developer Gave Them All The Boot Without First Complying With State Mobile Home Act

In Miami-Dade County, Florida, The Associated Press reports:
  • At first glance, the 15-acre Little Farm trailer park in El Portal, Florida, looks like a rundown neighborhood in need of a face-lift. But to the residents, many of them Hispanic and Haitian immigrants, this close-knit community was home.

    Nelly Shirley, 74, won a beautification award in 2003 for creating a lush, tropical garden surrounding her mobile home of 22 years. Clairmise Blanc, 72, was known as the "mayor of Little Farm" for keeping a log on the goings on at the trailer park. She reminisces about the nearly 10 years spent living in her home with her husband before he passed away. Carole Hatcher, 54, calls her mobile home "a paradise." She had envisioned spending her golden years here.

    They and other residents of Little Farm have moved since being evicted when the park was purchased in 2015 by Wealthy Delight LLC. The site is in preliminary planning for a mixed-use development. Residents were given more than one year to move out before the park was shut down July 31.

    A group of mobile home owners received an $8,000 settlement per household, after a lawsuit alleged that El Portal violated the Florida Mobile Home Act, which mandates that relocation studies must be conducted ahead of closure agreements.

    In an area of South Florida known for its glitzy, luxurious condo towers, affordable rental housing is hard to come by. Many of the residents of Little Farm work low-wage jobs or are retirees on fixed incomes. Residents who couldn't find housing are living with friends or family as they wait for availability of Section 8 housing. The trailer park will be razed.
Source: Evicted at Trailer Park "Paradise," Residents Seek New Homes.

See, generally, Miami New Times: El Portal Trailer Park Evictions Highlight Miami's Giant Real-Estate Disparity:
  • Some paid monthly rent for the land they lived on, but most owned their modest homes, often having invested their entire life savings from years of working low-paying jobs. They fixed up kitchens and maintained tidy gardens. They raised their families there and had no intention of leaving — and nowhere else to go: For years, as Miami's real-estate market has skyrocketed around it, Little Farm has existed among the city's last nongovernmental, low-income communities. It's a place where, until recently, working-class Hispanic and then Haitian immigrants could still afford to establish roots.

    One day last February, everything changed. Little Farm was sold for $14.25 million, and Wealthy Delight, a company based in Coral Gables but whose owners are difficult to trace, took over. Soon it became clear the Village of El Portal had agreed to forgive more than $8 million in liens on the site if the new owners paid $575,000 and razed the mobile home park.

Foreclosure-Facing "Homeless Hotel" Announces Closure, Leaving City Officials Scrambling For Relocation Options While Dozens Of Residents (Including 33 Children) Face The Boot

In Lansing, Michigan, the Lansing State Journal reports:
  • The closure of a south Lansing hotel that offers shelter to between 50 to 70 people who are homeless doesn't yet warrant declaring a state of emergency, a city official said.

    But Joan Jackson Johnson, the city's human relations and community services director, said it is a "housing emergency" Lansing needs to deal with.

    Management at the Magnuson Hotel sent a letter to people staying there [] notifying them of the closure, said Johnson. The hotel is the base for the Homeless Angels, a nonprofit that takes donations to pay for rooms there for people who are homeless. Many of them are families with children.
    Johnson said the news of the hotel's closure reminds her of the struggle city officials faced when the now shuttered Life O'Riley Mobile Home Park was condemned for health code violations in 2014. More than 100 residents of the park were displaced.
    According to the county treasurer's office, the Magnuson faces foreclosure by March 31 unless more than $110,000 in delinquent property taxes are paid.

    And in May officials at the Lansing Board of Water and Light said [the landlord] owed more than $51,000 in unpaid water and sewer charges, the fault of a broken meter at the property.
For the story, see Lansing official: 'Homeless hotel' closure an emergency (Closure of Magunsson Hotel could leave 50-70 people on the streets).

For a follow-up story, see:

Bernero declares housing emergency (Mayor Virg Bernero said city officials are committed to helping relocate 91 people who are homeless before the south Lansing hotel they're staying at closes):
  • [J]oan Jackson Johnson, the city's human relations and community services director, said of the 91 people receiving shelter at the Magnuson through The Homeless Angels, a nonprofit founded by Mike Karl, 33 are children. Jackson Johnson visited the hotel Monday to determine how many people would be affected.

    Those numbers are higher than the 50-70 Karl estimated Monday, and the 89 cited in the city's emergency declaration press release.
Judge grants temporary restraining order against Magnuson owner (An Ingham County Circuit Court judge has issued a temporary restraining order against the owner of a south Lansing hotel that is housing dozens of homeless families, preventing him from closing its doors on Sept. 12).

See, generally, Lansing’s ‘homeless hotel’ a grassroots effort with big dreams.

Owner Of "Last Hope" Hotel On U.S./Mexico Border Announces Plans To Demolish Premises, Gives 60-Days Notice To Low-Income, Near-Homeless Occupants (Including 20 Children) To Begin Packing Their Bags, Find Another Place to Live

In the San Ysidro section of San Diego, California, the San Diego Free Press reports:
  • All occupants residing at the 40-room Gateway Inn received a 60-day termination notice on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016. The hotel, located one block from the U.S.-Mexico border, is a single room occupancy (SRO) hotel known to provide units to those who might otherwise be homeless.

    The owner of the property, listed in public documents as Francis Lin, submitted a permit to the City of San Diego to demolish the two-story hotel, according to the San Diego Development Services Department. However, the permit – filed on Jan. 13, 2016 – has not yet been approved.
    Rachel [an occupant of the Gateway Inn] explains that an older disabled gentleman and his elderly wife will be evicted. Several mothers with children will have to find new housing also, displacing about 20 children.

    Another occupant, Jesusa, is a school bus driver who has lived at the Gateway Inn for almost three years. Her husband was deported and she spends most of her weekends in Tijuana. The location of the Gateway Inn is important because it’s close to the border, so she can visit her husband frequently. If her car breaks down, she can also use the trolley or the bus. Schools are nearby, although there is no Walmart or grocery store in close proximity.
    Tenants of the Gateway Inn pay $600 per month to rent a room. Jesusa explains that she owns a car and must pay an additional $250 per month to park her car.

    Rachel, whose husband is a construction worker and certified welder, was deported five years ago in Tracy, California. She says if he was able to come back to the United States, they would both get on their feet within a month. She sees him only when she can get a ride over to Tijuana because she doesn’t own a car. She wants to remain in San Ysidro and near the border, so she can remain in close to him.
For more, see Slumlord To Evict 20 San Ysidro Children By October (Owner of Gateway Inn, a last hope hotel, hands eviction notices to families, elderly).