Saturday, October 01, 2016

Landlords' Refusal To Accept Section 8 Hosing Vouchers, Inability To Scrape Up Cash For Moving Costs & Security Deposits Create Major Obstacles For About 100 Poor Families Facing Mass Displacement As Public Housing Complex's Date With Wrecking Ball Nears

In Corpus Christi, Texas, The Texas Tribune reports:
  • Jasmine Mosley has been living out of boxes for weeks. The cardboard towers threatening to take over her small living room remind her she is running out of time to find somewhere new to live.

    Mosley and her two-year-old son are among 122 families living at D.N. Leathers, a 75-year-old public housing complex, who must leave by the end of October so the complex can be torn down to make way for reconstruction of the city’s Harbor Bridge. The project, spearheaded by the Texas Department of Transportation and the Port of Corpus Christi Authority, is expected to boost the area's economy and make the 1950s-era bridge safer. For the predominantly black and Hispanic residents, it was supposed to also offer an escape from meager living in shoe box-like units in the shadow of refineries.

    But after months of waiting for details, many say they're having trouble finding places to go in a city where some landlords are reluctant to accept them, and that the government is offering little practical help with relocation.

    Housing vouchers they received in early August seemed to offer the possibility of fresh starts in better living quarters — maybe even places with central air conditioning — but the search for private market rental housing has proved daunting, they say. They've been promised spots in other housing projects if they want, but few do. Only about 25 families have opted to move straight into other public housing complexes.

    Many living on fixed incomes can't handle moving costs. Others can't scrape together security deposits. With the move-out deadline looming, many don't know where they’ll be living in a month and a half, or if they'll have much choice in the matter.

    “I’m physically here, but emotionally I’m just ready to give up,” said Mosley, who's confronted lengthy waiting lists and landlords who won't take her government voucher. “And I believe I’m not the only one that’s ready to give up because it’s a lot of people that are ready to throw in the towel.”

    The deal between the Corpus Christi Housing Authority and the state is already inked — awaiting final approval from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development — and the complex is set for demolition later this year. Tenants are supposed to be out by Oct. 31, but can stay through November if they have a new place but can't move in right away.

    It’s unclear whether many will be able to find housing in time.
    Landlords in Texas are not required to accept vouchers, and even when residents find potential housing, they must navigate a labyrinth of requirements to get approval from the housing authority, including inspections.
    Lawyers have also raised concerns that the housing authority is telling tenants to move out even though HUD hasn't granted its final approval of the demolition plan. [...] Legal aid lawyers and low income housing advocates have asked HUD to delay the move out and scrutinize the housing authority’s plan. HUD has not responded to their letter, and the agency declined to answer questions about the plan.

NYC Landlord Dies Without A Will Or Immediate Relatives, Leaving Six Queens Families In Rent-Regulated Building Fearing Speculators, Gentrifiers, Illegal Eviction Attempts As County Public Administrator's Office Schedules Auction To Sell Premises

In Ridgewood, Queens, the Ridgewood Times reports:
  • One minute they were all living comfortably in their rent-regulated apartments, and the next, their entire future was in doubt.

    This is the reality for six Ridgewood families who are fighting to stay in their homes, but time is not on their side.

    The residents of 1819 Cornelia St., a six-family apartment building, were thrust into a complex legal battle in July after the landlord of the building, Ion Stefan, died suddenly, leaving behind no immediate family members to take over control of the building.

    The tenants were notified by the Queens County Office of the Public Administrator, which assumes responsibility of a person’s estate if the deceased did not leave a next of kin, that they needed to provide a copy of their lease and pay their monthly rent to the Public Administrator. This concerned the Cornelia Street residents because no one came to explain this to them face to face.

    The residents decided not to pay rent to the Public Administrator because after only receiving a letter from the office, they were wary of potential scams and concerned about where their money was going. Since the landlord’s death, the tenants have just been paying the garbage man so that the building continues to run smoothly.

    “We only decided to pay the garbage man to make sure on Monday and Thursday our garbage gets taken out and we didn’t want the building to get a ticket,” said Hilda Coll-Valentin, a resident on the first floor of the building.

    In an attempt to save their apartments, the tenants want to band together to purchase the building as a co-op. The office informed them that the building would be put up for auction on Wednesday, Sept. 14, and for them to make it a co-op, they would have to be the highest bidder. When a property owner dies without a next of kin, the law requires that the property is sold in a public auction.

    A representative from the Public Administrator appraised the house at more than $948,000. The tenants have agreed to pay upwards of $950,000 to become the new owners of the building, yet the Public Administrator is still going to auction.
    Residents are concerned that whoever purchases the house at the auction may look to illegally get them out of their rent-regulated apartments in order to renovate the building and jack up the rent prices, a tactic that is not uncommon as Ridgewood has become more and more gentrified over recent years.

    “It has to stop before it gets to auction,” said Javier Maldonado, a resident on the third floor of the building. “Once someone makes a bid on it, it’s over. We are just scared with what is going to happen. If we lose this place, who knows where we will end up.”

    The tenants have reached out to their local elected officials to try and get some help to stay in their homes.

    Councilman Antonio Reynoso, who has fought against landlords illegally evicting long-term rent-regulated tenants, wrote a letter — co-signed by state Senator Michael Gianaris and Assemblyman Michael Miller — to Lois M. Rosenblatt, Queens County Public Administrator, requesting that she work with the tenants of the building to come to a deal and adjourn the auction.

    In the letter Reynoso points out the neighborhood’s recent history of landlords forcing tenants out of their homes, and the city’s need to create and keep affordable housing.

    “In light of the city’s pledge to preserve affordable housing in this city and allow for low-income families to remain in the communities they have called home for so many years, we respectfully request that you consider working with local elected officials and the tenants of 1819 Cornelia Street to reach a negotiated sale that would allow the tenants to turn this property into an Article XI HDFC and satisfy your fiduciary duty towards the estate of Ion Stefan,” the letter stated.

    A representative from the Public Administrator’s Office said that they are not moving too fast with this auction and are operating under the guidelines required by law. Since auctions are held quarterly, and the last one was held in June, the next auction was set for September no matter when Stefan died.

    The representative also stated that the Office is required to get the maximum amount of money for the building for the estate. If the current tenants are the highest bidder, however, the Office will work with them on the closing to try and make it a co-op building.

Tenants In 41-Unit Single Room Occupancy Building Ignore Landlord's Notice To Pack Their Bags & Vacate Premises As Chicago-Area Renters' Advocates Gear Up For Battle

In the Bridgeport section of Chicago, Illinois, DNAInfo (Chicago) reports:
  • A real estate company in charge of an Archer Avenue SRO in foreclosure is trying to evict the tenants living there, but the way it's doing it might be against the law, according to city officials.

    JCF Real Estate, the management company running the 41-room building at 3022 S. Archer Ave., ordered tenants to move out by the end of the day Monday. As of Tuesday night, the complex remained packed with dozens of residents worried they’ll soon be homeless.

    But a group of rights activists and the city's Buildings Department have vowed to stand up for them in a fight to keep roofs over their heads.

    "The city takes SRO tenants’ rights very seriously," said Mimi Simon, a spokeswoman with with Buildings Department, now working with agencies like the Metropolitan Tenants Organization and Lawyers Committee for Better Housing(1) to "ensure the tenants’ rights are protected from any unlawful evictions."

    The law

    The city has a SRO Preservation Ordinance that protects tenants from wrongful evictions from single-room occupancy buildings.

    The law requires owners to give six months’ notice when they plan to sell a building — enough time to allow the city to find a developer to take over operations.

    The ordinance also calls for the owner to pay displaced long-term residents a one-time “relocation” fee that’s the equivalent of three months’ rent, or three times the amount of rent paid over the previous 30 days.

    It's assistance the tenants at 3022 S. Archer Ave. need.
For more, see Bridgeport SRO Foreclosure: Residents Are Staying Put.
(1) The Metropolitan Tenants Organization is a Chicago, Illinois membership organization made up of tenants, tenant organizations, community members and groups whose mission is to educate, organize and empower tenants to have a voice in the decisions that affect the affordability and availability of decent and safe housing, according to their website.

The Lawyers' Committee for Better Housing (LCBH) is a non-profit law firm that focuses solely on low and moderate income renters in the Chicago, Illinois private housing market. LCBH will provide free legal and supportive services to assist truly disadvantaged renters, prevent wrongful eviction, and fight sub-standard living conditions, according to their website.

Chicago Landlord Announces Plans To Bulldoze 2-Story, Six-Unit Building To Make Room For 138-Unit Upscale Complex; Poor, Boot-Defying Tenants, Dozens Of Housing Activists, Supporters In Gentrifying Neighborhood Respond In Protest: We're Not Going Anywhere!

In Chicago, Illinois, Streetsblog Chicago reports:
  • [D]ozens of community residents and members of the Autonomous Tenants Union, Somos Logan Square, and Grassroots Illinois Action joined tenants of the 2340 N. California building in Logan Square as they announced their plans to fight their impending eviction.

    Current landlord Francisco Macias plans to sell the two-story, mixed-use structure, located a few hundred feet north of the California Blue Line station, to Savoy Development so that it can be bulldozed to make room for an upscale, 138-unit transit-oriented development ["TOD"]. At the press event, protesters brandished signs with messages like “We are still here and we’re not leaving” and “I am the face of eviction.”

    Macias has served the tenants, who were on month-to-month leases, with 30-day eviction notices. First Ward alderman Joe Moreno approve a zoning change for the TOD, and City Council approved Savoy’s proposal in June. Savoy owner Enrico Plati hopes to break ground by the end of the year, once he receives a demolition permit from the city. However, the current residents’ plans to contest the eviction may significantly delay construction.

    At the press conference, residents talked about how the evictions will negatively impact their lives. Adelina Silva, a senior, was noticeably shaken as she spoke. “We haven’t been able to find a place to go and I just got my foot operated on,” she said in Spanish. “I don’t know where we’ll go.”

    The as-yet-unnamed high-rise is part of a wave of transit-friendly construction along the Milwaukee Avenue corridor that was largely spurred by the city’s transit-oriented development ordinance, which was originally passed in 2013 and was strengthened last year. The legislation eliminates parking minimums and allows for higher density at locations near rapid transit stops, which helps decrease car-dependency for the residents of the new buildings.
    However, according to organizers of yesterday’s event, the evictions at the six-unit building are representative of the displacement they see as being brought on by all of the new development. Whether or not you agree that upscale development causes displacement, the demographics of Logan Square have changed considerably in recent years. DNAinfo reported that between 2000 and 2014, the number of Latino residents in Logan Square dropped by about 19,200, a 35.6 percent decrease.

State Regulator Pulls Nursing Home Operator's License Over Allegations Of Mismanagement, Financial Problems; Orders All Patients Be Discharged & Transferred; Dozens Of Elderly Residents Left In Limbo, Facing The Boot

In Tampa, Florida, WFTS-TV reports:
  • Dozens of elderly residents of a Tampa nursing home could be forced to move in less than a month because of something completely out of their control.

    Supporters of the University of Village are pleading to keep the facility open.

    It’s a confusing time for Diane Dunn. “I just heard it through the grapevine,” the resident said. The assisted living facility she calls home is in on the verge of closing and she’s not really sure why. “I still don’t understand. Negotiations, management. All these words are thrown at you,” she said.

    Jeanette McGillivray said all the patients are in the dark about what’s happening at University Village Nursing Center. “I know that everyone is upset about this. And no one seems to know anything,” she said.

    Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration gave the Tampa facility an order to discharge all its patients and transfer them because of on going issues involving mismanagement and financial problems.

    “The thought of moving all of these people into some other facility and where? I couldn’t imagine. This is a big place,” said McGillivray.

    Caretakers at University Village don’t want to see this place close.

    Some say they’ve been dealing with uncertainty for months, and have even had paychecks that didn’t clear. “It bothers me so bad until I want to cry. I come in in the morning and see my residents looking so down harden,” said certified nursing assistant Brenda Young.

    The ownership group lost it’s nursing license over all the problems.

    But those living and working here want to see another management group given control instead of closing University Village altogether.

    Who wants to move at the age of 80 and 90 and 100 years old. Who wants to move when they came here, there lives were to be taken care of. This is where I’m going to spend the rest of my days,” said Young, who has worked there for 24 years.

    A group of supporters are taking their pleas to keep University Village open to Tallahassee tomorrow, hoping state officials will listen.
For the story, see Nursing home residents fight to keep facility open (Mismanagement led to licensing issues).

Friday, September 30, 2016

Failing Sewer System, Need For Other Repairs May Be At Center Of Landlord's Announced Mobile Home Park Shutdown; Dozens Of Lot-Leasing Homeowners Forced To Pack Their Bags & Leave Under Threat Of Add'l Rent Charges If Their Homes Are Not Moved By Specified Date

In New Cumberland, West Virginia, WTOV-TV Channel 9 reports:
  • Dozens of families are packing up their homes and looking for new places to live after learning the New Cumberland trailer park will soon close down. Residents have just two months to move everything they own.

    Many have lived at Bel Masa Mobile Home Park for decades. Now that the park's closing, they have find somewhere to go and remove everything from the property. They're angry about the short notice and want something done.

    Tim Collins has lived at the Bel Masa for almost a decade. "It’s my first home by myself,” he said.

    Mary Sullivan has lived there for more than 20 years.

    But now, it's time to go. Tenants received a notice saying Bel Masa will no longer operate as a mobile home park. Tenants must vacate the lot they rent on or before November 12. The letter goes on to say... "should you fail to remove your mobile home"... "or should you leave any property or debris on the premises you will continue to be charged monthly rent."

    "What they're giving us ain’t enough time to get out of here find a place and clean up these whole lots,” Collins said.

    Residents call it a big order from a notice they just received last week. "I mean it says 90 days, but we didn't get it ‘til a month afterwards,” said resident Victoria Hughes.

    Hughes believes owners opted to close instead of making much-needed repairs to things like the leaking sewerage system. "Instead of telling us 6 or 7 months ago they were going to have to close down, they waited until the last possible moment to,” Hughes said.

    For an answer to that and more of their questions, we called the owners and even rang their doorbell but got no answer.

    With rent already paid, some want at least some of that money back to help pay for moving costs. "I think it would be the decent thing for them to do, not take our money," Collins said.

    But for others, it’s all about time. "As of right now we’re looking for a place. If we don't find a place by the time we’re supposed to be out of here then we have to go back to my mom’s,” Hughes said. "I just want more time to be able to find a decent place for my kids and I to go.”

    The park owner has not responded to requests for comment but West Virginia code lists stopping operations as a reason to terminate a lease.

Tears, Anger Abound As Lot-Leasing Trailer Park Residents Get 12 Months Notice To Move Or Abandon Their Mobile Homes; Aging Structures, Significant Modifications, Lack Of Available Space Make Expen$ive Relocation Difficult To Swing; Paltry Financial Reimbursement Offers Tough To Swallow

In Brackendale, British Columbia, News 1130 reports:
  • People living in a Brackendale trailer park are considering their legal options, after they’ve been told to vacate the property.

    Homeowners fear they’ll be homeless by this time next year. They received eviction notices [], at a meeting hosted by the Squamish Nation.

    Tom Green, who was in the crowd, says there were tears and anger and “it got pretty loud” at the meeting. “We’re done, we’re hooped, we don’t know what we’re going to do,” says Green, who has lived in the park since 2009.

    He pays $400 a month for the spot his home sits on, and has invested about $30,000 into the trailer, thinking he’d eventually sell it.

    Now, his plans have changed.

    “I’m phoning moving companies seeing if I can somehow move my trailer out of here. It’s not cheap. It’s very expensive. It will be about $5,000 to $10,000 to move it down the street, kind of thing. Then I need a place to put it.”

    Green says some people are threatening to squat on the property and they’re looking at hiring a lawyer.

    Back in 2012, the Squamish Nation took over operation of Riverside Trailer Park from a man who had run it for decades. The band made the prior leases invalid, so homeowners couldn’t sell their properties.

    “We feel the Squamish Nation could have been more upfront with this whole thing over the last four years. If they had told us four years ago what they were going to do, I wouldn’t have invested a cent in this place,” says Green.

    The band wants homeowners out of the park by October of next year and will allow them to stay rent free until then.

    It is also offering people who opt to move before the end of the year a payment of $9,600. The payment goes down to $4,800 if they leave between January 1 and March 31, 2017.
Source: Brackendale trailer owners describe a room full of anger.

See also, Squamish trailer park evictions leave residents with nowhere to go (Residents of 19 units at the trailer park were handed eviction notices after the band took over):
  • [R]esidents of 19 units at the trailer park were handed eviction notices by the band's lawyers and given a year to either move their mobile homes out or abandon them on the land.
    [Resident Wendy] Linton says they have been told, because the land is owned by the First Nation, it's not subject to tenancy laws.

    For Linton, who estimates her home would be worth $130,000 if she was not being evicted, the cash is cold comfort. "Most of our trailers can't be moved. They're so old and have porches attached and have been modified significantly, and, of course, there is a lack of space available," she said.

    She says with no way of selling her primary asset, the cash offered by the band won't be enough to even make a down payment on a new home in the pricey Squamish region. "I can't sell my trailer, so I can't get a deposit to get another place to live," she said.

    She says one of the owners who bought into the park five years ago was unable to sell his unit without a lease.

    "He had an offer of $115,000 on his trailer, and because he couldn't get a lease agreement from Squamish Nation, he couldn't sell."

    Linton says she's still reeling from the news, and it is too soon to say what she and others will do. "Quite frankly, I do not have a clue what I will do. I don't know right now. I think most people are still in shock."

As Many As 87-Lot-Leasing, Low-Income Residents Fear The Boot After Oregon Mobile Home Park Landlord Sends Notices Detailing Slew Of Improvements To Their Homes That Must Be Completed Within 30 Days To Dodge Eviction Proceedings

In Creswell, Oregon, The Creswell Chronicle reports:
  • Elderly, disabled and other low-income residents of Creswell Court Mobile Home Park – by some estimates as many as 87 of them – fear losing their homes after being served on or about Aug. 11 with notices detailing work that must be completed within 30 days to avoid eviction proceedings.

    The park is located at 700 N. Mill St.

    According to several residents who spoke at a Creswell Court resident meeting Sept. 1, work orders included repainting their homes an approved paint color, repairing fences, re-roofing, power-washing sidewalks and driveways, and removing everything from their carports except for their garbage cans – all within 30 days.

    Most of the people in here are retired and quite a few are disabled veterans; many are on fixed incomes or in the low- to medium-income range,” one resident said. “A lot can’t do the work themselves and don’t have the money to pay somebody to do the things they want us to do – especially that fast.”

    The Chronicle sought comment and verification of these facts from Larry Kampfer, Principal Broker of Kampfer Enterprises, but received no response after several attempts.

    “There is no story,” Richard Wyncoop, onsite manager, said. “We are just conducting business.” Wyncoop declined to comment or verify any information.

    But according to residents, there is a story.

    “There is a reason a lot of people move into these kinds of places,” resident Deb Thorsted said. “For some, mobile homes are the last rung to homeownership. Most of us can’t afford these repairs. (The landlords) are taking away our dignity.”
    Jane Capron and Judy Morton of Manufactured Housing / Oregon State Tenants Association (MH/OSTA) attended the Sept. 1 meeting to help residents understand their rights while encouraging them to know their rights and organize.

    “There are a lot of things that protect you,” said Capron, Lane District director. Capron suggested the residents form a committee of seven through OSTA, where residents could “without gripes, represent everyone in the park” and soundboard their collective concerns.

    “There is power in organization,” she said.

    Under Oregon Revised Statutes, a landlord may seek to evict a mobile or manufactured home owner who rents space in their park if the landlord believes the condition of the home is so deteriorated or in such disrepair that it does not meet reasonable park standards.

    The landlord may also seek to evict if they believe the homeowner has violated a condition of their space rental agreement (for example, by failing to adequately maintain their space) or for breaking a reasonable and fairly enforced rule of the park, or any other law or ordinance.

    In either case, the tenant can avoid eviction by correcting the identified issues within the time period allowed by law. In some cases, the tenant may get an extension if needed repairs cannot reasonably be made in the time allowed, and the tenant always has the right to a court hearing before being evicted.

    Capron answered residents’ questions about particular circumstances, such as having too many items in a carport, leaving an air conditioner in a window for 11 months or having big items such as refrigerators or grills on the porches.

    She reminded residents to read their contracts carefully, as not every resident has the same one, depending on when they moved in. Capron also said terms in such documents such as “disrepair” and “deterioration” are “vague and hard to define.”

    The landlord has the right to tell you to clean up your property, but it’s limited to what is actually in disrepair or deterioration… the landlord can’t demand you have to fix something that’s not broken,” she said.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Omaha Woman Purporting To Be Property Manager Bagged On Theft By Deception Charge For Allegedly Ripping Off Prospective Tenant For Over $6K On Deal Victim Thought Was Rent-To-Own Arrangement; Suspect's Defense Attorney: It's Not A Crime, Merely A Civil Matter

In Omaha, Nebraska, WOWT-TV Channel 6 reports:
  • An arrest warrant has been issued for a woman who set up her own organization to help low-income people rent or buy a home.

    Victims of theft by deception, the Rodriguez family may have to move from South 17th and U streets. "Very sad, very sad, because we are looking for a house because we have a special needs child," says Zenaida Rodriguez.

    Rodriguez paid more than $6,000 to 32-year-old Juanita Pinon, who claimed to be an agent for the homeowner who owns numerous rental properties. Rodriguez believed that money was going to the homeowner on a rent-to-own basis.

    According to a police report, she alleges the money went into Pinon's own bank account. Pinon founded Las Unikas to help low-income families get a home. But an associate of the man who owned the houses claims that money for mortgages didn't always go to the bank and she suspects Pinon.

    "She was pretending to be a property manager for all these properties and pocketing the money," says Joselyn Hatcher, an associate of the homeowner. "Money that didn't go to pay mortgages. So now Tony, the owner of the houses, lost most to the banks. Out of 27 he's down to five and trying not to lose the rest of them."

    Six On Your Side has a copy of the arrest warrant for Juanita Pinon, citing two counts of theft by deception each over $5,000. In a separate police report, this young woman alleges Pinon took her in, then took her identity after she had to fill out an application.
For the story, see Woman accused of pocketing money instead of helping poor find housing.

For the follow-up story, see Bond set for theft by deception defendant:
  • Pinon’s attorney Chris Roth said it’s a contract dispute and not a criminal matter. Roth said Pinon’s actions didn’t cause cash flow issues for the landlord that put any of his properties into foreclosure.

After 2+ Year Investigation, Suspected Home Title Hijacker Gets Pinched By Cops On Multiple Grand Theft, Fraud Charges; Suspect Allegedly Used Forged Deeds To Pilfer Properties; Both Homeowners & Unwitting Notaries Whose Names Appeared On Bogus Documents Left Equally Perplexed

In West Palm Beach, Florida, The Palm Beach Post reports:
  • With the help of forged quitclaim deeds, a Boynton Beach man has been scooping up properties in and around the city for years, according to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.

    Roody Antion Silverain, 38, told deputies he bought properties well below their appraised values with the intent to fix them up.

    The supposed home sellers, though, told deputies those they’d never heard of Silverain, or signed any quitclaim deeds.

    Deputies spent more than two years investigating Silverain, according to sheriff’s office records. Early Wednesday [Sept. 14], they arrested the Boynton man on multiple counts of grand theft and fraud.

    Deputies first met Silverain in August 2014 after a woman said he’d filed a fraudulent quitclaim deed on her property near Boynton.

    Silverain told deputies he snagged the suburban Boynton home, valued at nearly $400,000, for $3,000. The woman’s ex-husband, he told deputies, agreed to the sale and signed the paperwork.

    But that man no longer owned the home, according to a sheriff’s office report, and said he’d never heard of Silverain.

    The story repeated at least two other times — once with a home south of Southeast 23rd Avenue, and again with a home west of Florida’s Turnpike, off Lyons Road.

    Additional deputy interviews with Silverain led to contradicting narratives and muddled details.

    He told deputies he had one guy handling paperwork, but couldn’t provide contact information because the man switched emails and phone numbers each time they spoke.

    The people who supposedly notarized the documents were as perplexed by the deeds as the homeowners, according to a sheriff’s office report.

    In June, the sheriff’s office filed charges against Silverain. Business records show he owns a roofing contracting company,Powermind Global Service, Inc.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Last Of 17 Defendants Gets 14 Years Prison Time For Role In Sale Leaseback, Equity Stripping Racket That Duped Over 300 Foreclosure-Facing Homeowners Into Signing Over Their Homes In Exchange For False Promises Of Foreclosure Rescue

From the Office of the U.S. Attorney (Sacramento, California):
  • On Wednesday, September 14, 2016, Domonic McCarns, 41, of Irvine, was sentenced to 14 years in prison by U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller for conspiracy to commit mail fraud for his participation in a nationwide foreclosure-rescue scam, Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

    McCarns is the final defendant to be sentenced for a pair of schemes that lured homeowners with the promise to help them avoid foreclosure and repair their credit. Two indictments were brought in 2008. Four defendants were convicted after two jury trials, 13 defendants pleaded guilty, and now, all 17 defendants have been sentenced. On September 9, 2013, Charles Head was sentenced to 35 years in prison, and on October 29, 2014, his brother and fellow leader in the scheme Jeremy Michael Head was sentenced to 10 years in prison.(1)

    Acting U.S. Attorney Talbert said: ‘This scheme purposely targeted the financially vulnerable during their time of greatest distress with promises of help. The defendants tricked the victims into handing over their most valuable assets, their homes. Few economic crimes are more reprehensible. This final sentence in this case will bring some measure of justice for their victims.”
    According to court documents, the defendants solicited homeowners facing foreclosure, and through misrepresentations, fraud, and forgery, substituted straw buyers for the victim homeowners on the titles of properties without the homeowners’ knowledge. These straw buyers were often friends and family members of the defendants, or were solicited on the internet. Once the straw buyers were on title to the homes, the defendants applied for mortgages to extract the maximum available equity from the homes. The defendants then shared the proceeds of the ill-gotten equity and the “rent” that the victim homeowners paid them. Ultimately, the victim homeowners were left with no home, no equity, and with damaged credit ratings.

    Initially, the scam focused on distressed homeowners in California before expanding throughout the United States. In the course of the schemes, between January 2004 and June 2006, the defendants obtained over $90 million in fraudulent loans, caused estimated losses of over $50 million, and stole title to over 300 homes.

    On December 2, 2013, McCarns was convicted after a five-week trial along with Charles Head, 36, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, (formerly of Los Angeles); and Benjamin Budoff, 46, of Colorado Springs, Colorado. Head had been previously convicted in a trial in a nearly four-week trial in May 2013 with his brother Jeremy Michael Head, 34, of Huntington Beach.
Source: Final Defendant Sentenced to 14 Years in Prison for Nationwide Foreclosure Rescue Scam (Over $90 Million in Fraudulent Loans and Hundreds of Homes Stolen from Homeowners).
(1) Fourteen other defendants have been sentenced:
  1. Elham Assadi, 39, of Irvine, sentenced to 5 years’ probation with 6 months of home detention;
  2. Leonard Bernot, 50, of Laguna Hills, sentenced to 18 months in prison;
  3. Akemi Bottari, 36, of Los Angeles, sentenced to 3 years’ probation with 6 months of home detention;
  4. Keith Brotemarkle, 51, of Johnstown, Penn., sentenced to 5 years, 10 months in prison;
  5. Benjamin Budoff, 49, Colorado Springs, Colo. sentenced to 4 years in prison;
  6. Joshua Coffman, 37, of North Hollywood, sentenced to 20 months in prison;
  7. John Corcoran, 61, of Anaheim, sentenced to 4.5 years in prison;
  8. Sarah Mattson, 33, of Phoenix, Ariz., sentenced to 3 years’ probation with 3 months of home detention;
  9. Omar Sandoval, 36, of Rancho Cucamonga, sentenced to 4 years and 10 months in prison;
  10. Xochitl Sandoval, 37, of Rancho Cucamonga, sentenced to 8 months in prison;
  11. Lisa Vang, 31, of Westminster, sentenced to 3 years’ probation;
  12. Andrew Vu, 38, of Santa Ana, sentenced to 6 months in prison with 6 months of home detention;
  13. Justin Wiley, 37, of Irvine, sentenced to 18 months in prison, and
  14. Kou Yang, 40, of Corona, sentenced to 4 years in prison.

Sales Manager For Telemarketing Racket That Ripped Off Over 30,000 Financially Strapped Homeowners Out Of $31 Million By Peddling Bogus Loan Modifications Gets 16 Years Prison Time

In New York City, Reuters reports:
  • A California man was sentenced [] to 16 years in prison for his role in what prosecutors said was the largest mortgage modification scheme ever prosecuted, involving more than 30,000 homeowners defrauded out of $31 million.

    Dionysius Fiumano, a former sales manager at Irvine, California-based Vortex Financial Management Inc, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge John Keenan in Manhattan, who said the harm to victims had been "enormous financially and emotionally."

    "This was a callous scheme and really a heartless one," Keenan said.

    Fiumano, who was also ordered to pay nearly $20 million in restitution, was one of five people charged in connection with the scheme, and the only one to go to trial. A federal jury found him guilty in May on conspiracy and wire fraud charges.

    In court, Fiumano, 45, blamed his employers, saying they were "deceptive from the outset," but said he nonetheless felt shame for any role he had in harming homeowners.

    "I apologize to anyone and everyone who was hurt," he said.

    Prosecutors said Fiumano was the general manager of sales at Vortex, also known as the Professional Marketing Group, a company that offered to help struggling homeowners persuade their lenders to agree to modify the terms of their mortgages.

    While at the company from 2011 to 2014, Fiumano oversaw a staff of 60 salespeople and perpetrated a scheme to defraud homeowners who were seeking to take advantage of government mortgage relief programs, prosecutors said.

    He instructed his salespeople to lie to consumers nationwide about what the firm would do for them in order to get homeowners to pay thousands of dollars each in fees in exchange for minimal or no mortgage modification services, prosecutors said.

    The scheme, which resulted in over 30,000 consumers paying the firm $31 million, began coming undone in 2013 when the special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program began investigating. The firm closed in 2014.

    Fiumano was arrested in August 2014 along with two other individuals, in what prosecutors have said is the largest mortgage modification scheme ever to result in criminal charges.

    Beyond Fiumano, four individuals have pleaded guilty in connection with the case, including the company's co-owners, Ped Abghari and Johnny Linderman. They have yet to be sentenced.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Built In 1846, Aging Home Of NYC Buildings Department Is Falling Apart; Agency Officials Acknowledge Struggle To Comply With Their Own Building Code; Spokesperson: "Yes, We Get The Irony!"

In New York City, the New York Post reports:
  • The city agency charged with keeping buildings safe can’t keep its own premises in good repair.

    The city-owned landmark building that’s home to the Department of Buildings — best known to passers-by for its ancient clock advertising the old New York Sun newspaper — is falling apart.

    A falling concrete slab closed a parking garage on Aug. 19 beneath the city-owned building at 280 Broadway, which dates to 1846.

    The building’s crumbling exterior led the city to surround it a decade ago with a sidewalk shed that’s still in place today. In 2011, the city added scaffolding that’s also still installed.

    The exterior work began as a routine facade inspection and repair project required by city law — but grew to a multiyear renovation job. “It’s horrible and it’s dangerous,” said a food-cart operator who works on the block.

    Department officials are aware their headquarters is struggling to meet city building codes.

    Yes, we get the irony,” said DOB spokesman Alexander Schnell. “But in many ways DOB is just like any other tenant in the city. We have no construction crews of our own, so we need our landlord to repair the building.”

    When the sub-basement ceiling collapsed last month, “we handled it like any other building complaint,” he added.

Landlord Tagged By City In Civil Lawsuit For Allegedly Taking Single Family Homes & Illegally Carving Them Into Multiple Units, Then Pocketing Section 8, VA Housing Subsidies By Cramming Dozens Of Formerly Homeless Vets Into Premises; Allegedly Chopped Up 15 Legal Units Into 49 Income Streams Throwing Off $80K/Month

In San Francisco, California, reports:
  • A San Francisco landlord illegally crammed dozens of formerly homeless veterans into overcrowded dwellings across the Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood, while collecting millions of dollars in federal subsidies aimed at helping vets and the poor, a lawsuit filed [] by City Attorney Dennis Herrera claims.

    Judy Wu, along with husband Chuan Zhu, allegedly chopped up residences — mostly single-family homes — into multiple-unit buildings and then rented the units to tenants possessing vouchers from Section 8 and the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Homes for Heroes program, which is designed to end homelessness among veterans.

    The lawsuit identifies 12 buildings with 15 legal units divided up and rented to 49 individual tenants, two-thirds of them veterans. The leases are bringing in $80,031 a month in rent, or $960,372 a year. Herrera’s lawsuit alleges that the 49 units “do not comply with San Francisco zoning requirements and subsequently endanger the occupants and neighborhood residents.”
    The case came to the city’s attention after Supervisor Malia Cohen, who represents the Bayview, noticed a pattern of complaints about properties owned by Wu. Neighbors said the single-family homes seemed overpopulated, noisy and overflowing with trash. Sidewalks filled up with cars and backyards became littered with mattresses, discarded furniture, stray cats and mounds of old clothing. The buildings had just one mailbox for all the units, resulting in stolen checks and heaps of unopened envelopes littering common stairways.
    Again and again, according to the city, Wu obtained permits for minor alterations — a new bathroom, bedrooms, storage or laundry room — and then undertook much more extensive renovations than allowed, adding multiple units.

    At 1351 Revere Ave., a single-family home purchased for $260,000 in September 2010, the landlords sought a permit to add a laundry room, family room, three bathrooms and three bedrooms, according to documents from the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection. They proceeded to lease it out to seven separate tenants, collecting $11,830 a month in rent. The home is 1,493 square feet, which works out to 213 square feet per unit.

    At 1050 Gilman Ave., the 1,180-square-foot home was broken up into five units, for which the property owners have been collecting $10,104 in rent per month, according to Herrera’s office. Wu and her husband bought the building in 2009 for $200,000, city records show.

    Wu said she is “cooperating with the city and trying to protect my tenants.” “My tenants are very low-income and some have mental problems. I am trying to house as many veterans as possible,” she said. “I am complying with what (the city) asks me to do. They are not supposed to be filing a lawsuit against me. What can I do? They want me to get rid of my tenants?”
    Visits to Wu’s properties and interviews with her tenants create a picture of a landlord who, while allegedly violating the city’s zoning codes, also cares about housing veterans with few other options. She regularly leases to tenants whose eviction records made other landlords see them as off limits, and apparently is not quick to throw out those who fall behind on their rent, some tenants say. On the other hand, tenants complained of everything from broken stoves to lack of heat to Wu’s unwillingness to get rid of residents who are disruptive or engaging in illegal activities.

Recent City Crackdown Has Code Inspectors Red-Tagging Improperly Subdivided Houses, Other Illegal Rental Units With Over Three Dozen Families Getting The Boot With Little Notice; 100+ Landlords, Tenants, Supporters Seek Emergency Moratorium On Condemnations

In East Palo Alto, California, Palo Alto Online reports:
  • Nearly 40 East Palo Alto families in recent months have been turned out of their rental homes with as little as 10 days notice due to a recent citywide crackdown on illegal housing. In response, more than 100 tenants, landlords and their supporters begged the East Palo Alto City Council [] to invoke an emergency moratorium against the red-tagging of homes.

    The crowd, which was backed by the interfaith group Faith in Action and pastors from St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, told council members that the city's recent enforcement action against illegal second dwellings and structures deemed uninhabitable has created a crisis in the community. They asked the council for the moratorium and for help in finding solutions, including allowing nonprofit groups to bring the homes into compliance with city safety codes.

    East Palo Alto has had a longstanding problem with illegal second dwellings, which have included converted garages, trailers, sheds and cottages on properties. City streets have seen increasing congestion with double-parked cars, trash and other hazards as more people have squeezed onto residential lots.

    Until recently the city was unable to enforce its safety code due to a staffing shortage, Vice Mayor Larry Moody said by phone []. The city had two code enforcement officers for many years, and only one last year. But it recently added four officers, which has resulted in an uptick in enforcement.
    [Church pastor Father Lawrence] Goode said he met with a city building-department official, who informed him there were 39 red-tagged residences on the city's list. Red-tagged units must be vacated in 10 days. Speaking at the council meeting, Goode asked the city for the moratorium on housing condemnations.

    "Are we safe? Are we better off?" he asked of turning people out onto the street rather than finding ways to rehabilitate the homes. "I'm not sure they are. ... There's never been a good time for an eviction. This has to be the worst possible time."
For more, see Illegal-housing crackdown leads to dozens of evictions (East Palo Alto landlords, tenants ask City Council for a moratorium on condemnations).

Homeowner Slapped With Code Enforcement Violation Notice For Allowing Close Friend To Park RV On Premises & Live Out Of It

In Marion County, Oregon, KPAX-TV Channel 8 reports:
  • Property owners in rural Marion County who are providing temporary refuge for families displaced by the region's housing crisis have been told to cease and desist.

    Renee Glass, who has been allowing a close friend to park her recreational vehicle near her barn, said she received a notice from the county's code enforcement division informing her she was in violation of county ordinance.

    "I was shocked," Glass said. "They're here because they can't afford to pay park rent. They're here because they have family, support, friends."

    The county's letter to Glass outlined the complaints, stating that an RV cannot be inhabited on the property for more than 120 days and that it cannot be "hard-lined" to utilities.

    Glass contends that the people have been staying less than the 120-day limit, and said that utility hookups were all temporary, adding that the power was just from an extension cord.

    She said she is not the only one getting a notice from the county, either, adding that two of her neighbors were also [told] to stop housing people on their property.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Gentrifying Brooklyn Landlord Faces Lawsuit For Allegedly Illegally Overcharging Tenants In Recently Purchased 8-Unit Rent-Stabilized Building Being Gut-Renovated & Operated As A Rooming House

In Crown Heights, Brooklyn, The Real Deal (NYC) reports:
  • In June, residents of 80 New York Avenue came up with a novel way to warn prospective tenants away. They hung fluorescent green, orange and pink signs in the windows across three floors, that together spelled out, “SLUMLORD: DON’T RENT HERE.”

    The landlord they were referring to, Mendel Gold, bought the four-story Crown Heights walk-up in 2014 for $2.3 million, then gut-renovated and converted most of the eight units to five-bedroom apartments, which he rents out by the room.(1)

    Renting by the room is gaining popularity in gentrifying Brooklyn, Gothamist reported, and it’s easy to see why. Both landlords and brokers can reap the benefits of a rotating pool of tenants. The rooms, which can go for under $1,000 a month, appeal to young singles who may not have the finances or willingness to make a long-term commitment.

    Landlords “are essentially gutting apartments and turning them into relatively nice places to live,” Bernard Klein, a realtor with Blooming Sky, told Gothamist. “Then, to increase their rental yield they get a broker to market it by the room.”

    David Maundrell TRData LogoTINY, who runs the Brooklyn and Queens division for Citi Habitats, told the website that the practice of renting by the room was a common one in emerging neighborhoods. “If you go out to a cool restaurant and you have a younger waiter, they all live in these neighborhoods,” he said. “And this is how they do it.”

    Renting by the room is illegal, however, unless all the tenants co-sign a lease.

    In the case of 80 New York Avenue, however, the landlords and broker were less-than-upfront about the living arrangements, the tenants allege. Some didn’t realize they’d be co-leasing an apartment with four other people, or that the landlords would have so much control over who lived with them.

    The tenants have sued the landlords alleging illegal deregulation and rent overcharges.

    Their lawyer, Brian Sullivan of MFY Legal Services,(2) said they are “exactly the sort of tenants to live in an SRO.” They’re working but not making a lot of money and need cheap, no-frills accommodations, Sullivan told Gothamist. “That whole section of the housing market just got demolished, and it creates conditions where landlords can take advantage.”
Source: Landlords in gentrifying Brooklyn are increasingly renting by the room (Demand for quick and cheap housing prompts some to consider SRO-like arrangements: report).
(1) See 'Slumlord' Matchmaker: Brooklyn Landlord Turns Desperate Strangers Into Sudden Roommates.

(2) MFY Legal Services is a New York City-based non-profit, public interest law firm that works in concert with neighborhood social service providers and community advocates to reach and provide legal representation and education to low-income New Yorkers in the following areas: housing, public benefits, consumer, employment, civil rights, disability rights, and family matters.

Tenants Living In Rooms In Illegally Drywall-Subdivided Basement Of 2-Family Home All Get Immediate Boot While Code Enforcement Inspector/Homeowner Gets Pinched For Unpermitted Conversion; Unwitting Occupant Contributed To Own Eviction With Maintenance-Related Complaint To NYC Housing Agency, Triggering Probe

In Jamaica, Queens, DNAInfo (New York) reports:
  • A housing inspector endangered the lives of his tenants by violating the same building codes the city employed him to enforce, the Queens District Attorney’s office announced [].

    Derrick Allen, 58, a Brooklyn inspector for the Department of Housing Preservation and Development who owns two buildings in Queens, was charged [] with illegally converting the cellar space in his Rosedale and St. Albans properties into dangerous living quarters, according to the DA’s office.

    The units — hooked up to illegal gas and water lines — lacked adequate exits and natural light, which District Attorney Richard Brown noted made the residencies dangerous not only for tenants, but emergency responders as well.

    “Such conversions jeopardize the lives of not only the buildings’ residents but firefighters and other personnel who in responding to an emergency are confronted by a maze of rooms with no way out,” said Brown in a statement.

    “As a code enforcement inspector himself, the defendant should have known better.”

    The Housing Department first became aware of Allen’s practices as a landlord on Aug. 18 when an illegal tenant in his Rosedale building called 311 to complain about building maintenance, according to the DA.

    Housing inspectors arrived one week later to find four illegal single-room residencies in the basement with access to only one exit, as well as a shared kitchen with an illegal gas stove and a bathroom with a hole in the ground where a toilet once stood, the DA said.

    Tenants were ordered to vacate the premises immediately due to the unsafe circumstances, the DA said.

    Representatives from the Department of Investigation and Department of Buildings looked into Allen’s St. Albans residence on Sept. 1 and found a similar setup, the DA said.

    The basement had been converted into a two-bedroom apartment with illegal gas and water lines, and once again there was only one exit.

    Allen was expected to be arraigned in Queens Criminal Court [] where he will be charged with one count of reckless endangerment and two code violations. The inspector will face up to one year in jail if he is convicted.
Source: Housing Inspector Charged with Making Dangerous Conversions to His Home: DA.

For the Queens District Attorney press release, see City Housing Inspector Charged With Reckless Endangerment After Inspection Uncovers Violations And Illegal Conversion Of Queens Buildings Owned By Him:
  • [A]ccording to the criminal complaint, an HPD [code enforcement] inspector conducted an inspection on August 26, 2016, and observed that the cellar had been illegally divided by drywall into four separate single room occupancies (“SRO”) with a kitchen and bathroom.

Electrical Circuit Malfunction Blamed For Fire In Home Carved Up Into Illegal Rooming House, Leaving 11 Crammed-In Boston Residents Homeless; Landlord Cited For Code Violations

In Boston, Massachusetts, WCVB-TV Channel 5 reports:
  • A Boston landlord has been cited after a [] fire left nearly a dozen people homeless.

    The Myrick Street fire in the city's Allston neighborhood was a caused by an electrical circuit malfunction.

    The landlord is suspected of operating the building as an unlicensed rooming house, with several individual units with dead bolts on the doors. The 11 residents included college students and young adults.

    "Every single bedroom had a dead bolt on it, roughly 10 rooms," said Boston Fire Marshall Jack Dempsey.

    The commissioner of Inspectional Services and the city fire marshal met with landlord to issue two violations for failing to obtain a permit and having an unsafe structure.

Cops, Code Enforcement, Other Officials Raid 3-Bedroom Long Island Home That Was Carved Up Into 9-Bedroom Firetrap; Landlord & 18 Seasonal Occupants Face Various Charges

In Montauk, Long Island, The East Hampton Star reports:
  • Nineteen people were charged with violations of the town code when The East Hampton Town Code Enforcement Department, working with the Building Department, fire marshals, and town police, executed a search warrant at 13 Beech Hollow Court in Montauk at 6 a.m. According to Michael Sendlenski, the town attorney, 18 people were found staying in the house, which apparently had nine bedrooms. The homeowner was also charged.

    The raid was the result of an investigation of an alleged share house and dangerous overcrowding, which spanned most of the summer. Alina Gersham, who leased the house for the season from Thomas Mahl of Montauk, was at the house at time of the raid. Mr. Mahl reportedly bought the house in 2006 for $1.65 million.

    Ms. Gersham "was renting out rooms, parts of rooms, the illegally converted basement, and even the pool house . . . to 17 occupants for as much as $1,800 for a weekend per room," according to a town press release.

    She allegedly created six additional bedrooms, illegally converting the basement, among other spaces, into rooms that were firetraps, with no egress in case of emergency, and no smoke detectors, according to the release. The pool house was also allegedly converted into bedrooms illegally.

    The town became aware of the apparent violations earlier this summer after police were called in response to a noise complaint. They issued summonses for noise violations as well as overcrowding. "They previously tried to legalize the basement, but the town said, 'No,' Mr. Sendlenski said, due to the dangerous conditions. Ms. Gersham, allegedly with the permission of Mr. Mahl, continued to rent out the rooms after the summonses were issued.

    Each of the residents of the house [] is facing charges under the town code on the use of single family residences. Ms. Gersham and Mr. Mahl, on the other hand, are facing "many dozens" of charges, quite a few of which are criminal misdemeanors, according to Mr. Sendlenski. The number of charges each is facing could top 100, he said.

    Mr. Mahl, who was living at his house at 16 Gates Avenue in Montauk, told authorities he was not aware of what was happening on Beech Hollow Road. It is the second time in a year that one of his properties has been cited as an illegal share house.

    Kimberly Geise, then 46, who, like Ms. Gersham, rented the Gates Avenue house for the season, pleaded guilty in October to seven charges stemming from the sale of shares on AirBNB and Craigslist. "The homeowner, Tom Mahl, told investigators that he was unaware of what was going on," The Star said in reporting the charges. At the time, Mr. Sendlenski said homeowners are not generally charged the first time around. By phone on Saturday, he reiterated that point. "The second time around, the owner is culpable," he said. He added that the investigation was ongoing.

    In the press release, the charges were described as "rental registry violations that provide that the landlord notify the town Building Department when the number of tenants change and when new rental periods begin and end." Other charges include the sale of shares, no smoke detectors, construction without a permit, no certificate of occupancy, improper egress for bedrooms in the basement, conversion of the house from single to multifamily use, and alleged violations with respect to the pool house and basement.

    All 19 charged will be arraigned in East Hampton Town Justice Court on Sept. 26.
For the story, see Town Charges 19 in Dawn Raid of Rented House. subdivided

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Threatened With Redevelopment Plans That Don't Include Them, Boot-Fearing, Low-Income Tenants In 535-Unit Section 8 Apartment Complex Tag D.C. Developer With Housing Discrimination (Familial Status) Lawsuit For Alleged Harm Against Big Families; Failure To Replace Existing 4 & 5-Bedroom Apartments Will Displace As Many As 150 Extended Families Needing Larger Accommodations: Complaint

In Washington, D.C., the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs(1) recently announced:
  • As plans move forward to redevelop Brookland Manor, a group of long-standing resident families, along with community-based organization ONE DC, have filed a class action lawsuit [] challenging the discriminatory redevelopment by developer Mid-City Financial Corporation and its affiliates.

    If allowed to go forward as planned, the redevelopment would eliminate many apartments with three bedrooms and all apartments of more than three bedrooms, and displace up to one hundred and fifty families. Defendant Mid-City Financial Corporation has “justified” this discrimination on the basis that large families are “not consistent with the creation of a vibrant new community.”

    Tenants, who have lived at Brookland Manor with their families for years, disagree with this notion. Named plaintiff, Adriann Borum, comments: “They say it takes a village to raise a child. I was raised at Brookland Manor, and have raised 5 children here. Brookland Manor is our village, and our village is being torn apart.”

    Ms. Borum has lived at Brookland Manor for 28 years, but her four bedroom apartment is among those that would be bulldozed and left un-replaced in the proposed redevelopment. She and other residents bringing this lawsuit want to preserve their homes, which are among the only affordable apartments with three, four, or five bedrooms in the District.

    The complaint [] details the resident families’ claims that Defendants seek to exclude and displace up to 150 families by eliminating family-sized units (three-, four- and five-bedroom units) in the redevelopment, which will have a discriminatory and disproportional impact on families. The lawsuit also seeks an order from the court halting the proposed redevelopment to prevent any further forced displacement of tenants prior to the resolution of this court action.
For more, see: Low-Income Families File Lawsuit to Halt Discriminatory Redevelopment of DC-Based Brookland Manor Property.

View the Brookland Manor Litigation Fact Sheet here.

For the lawsuit, see Borum, et al. v. Brentwood Village, LLC et al.

See also Washington City Paper: Northeast Tenants Sue Owner for Alleged Discrimination (A lawsuit against the owner, notorious for anti-tenant practices, claims redevelopment plans would push out Brookland Manor residents).
(1) The Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, was established in 1968 to provide pro bono legal services to address discrimination and entrenched poverty in the Washington, DC community.

Citing Age, Health Problems, Landlord Announces Retirement Plans - Including Shutting Down 49-Unit Building & Bequeathing It To Local University, Leaving Four Dozen Families Scrambling For New Accommodations

In Oak Ridge, Tennessee, The Oak Ridger reports:
  • It appears the oft-maligned Applewood Apartments on Hillside Road will soon close once and for all, as tenants recently received notice they need to vacate the premises by Sept. 30.
    Knoxville attorney Joseph Levitt Jr., who owns the Applewood Apartments, recently sent a letter to all his tenants announcing the impending closing. [Building residents] Joe and Brenda Lisenberg provided a copy of Levitt’s letter to The Oak Ridger.

    “I am closing down the Applewood Apartments as of Sept. 30, 2016,” the letter begins. “I have tried to keep the apartments going as long as possible to provide affordable housing for the working people of Oak Ridge. Unfortunately, my health no longer affords me the ability to keep operating the apartments.

    THIS IS YOUR 60-DAY NOTICE. Please begin looking for other lodgings as soon as possible. Stephanie will be glad to give references and help facilitate your smooth transition. You can pay at the office as usual and let the staff know when you have cleaned out your unit. An inspection will be made and your damage deposit will be refunded depending upon the condition upon your departure.

    “It is a sad day for all of us who have tried to give you an affordable place to live. Our Applewood staff will be available to you during this time.”
    In a phone interview with the Applewood Apartments owner, Levitt said he’s leaving his estate to the University of Tennessee Law School when he dies and doesn’t want to leave the “ruckus” of Applewood to UT.

    “I don’t want to saddle the university with that,” said Levitt, adding his age and state of health prevent him from doing many of the activities he once did. Levitt and the city of Oak Ridge have been in legal disputes over the apartments for years; and when asked about those confrontations, Levitt said he’ll continue to fight “on principle.”
    The mission of the Oak Ridge-based nonprofit organization Trinity Outreach Center of Hope (TORCH) is to help homeless people and to attempt to prevent local homelessness. Executive Director Andy O’Quinn told The Oak Ridger [] that he’d just learned of the Applewood Apartments fate — but nevertheless said he is already in the process of doing what he can.

    “I am talking to several other people about what the best approach will be and how TORCH and the community can work together to assist these individuals,” O’Quinn said. “I will let you know more once I have a more formal plan.”

    The Oak Ridger also spoke to Housing Choice Voucher/Section 8 Manager Terri Flynn with the Oak Ridge Housing Authority, and she said the ORHA has a plan in place to help the 49 families being displaced. The Housing Authority reportedly has a preference code for those displaced through no fault of their own, and Flynn urged Applewood Apartments residents to contact the ORHA as soon as possible to get the process started.

    “They can call (865) 482-1006, Ext. 121, to get the process started as soon as possible,” said Flynn, who noted there are current openings in Oak Ridge’s public housing but applicants must still meet certain requirements for eligibility.

Dementia Patients In Troubled Nursing Home To Be Displaced After Reports Of Mistreatment Force Facility Shutdown

In Middleton, Rochdale, United Kingdom, the Manchester Evening News reports:
  • Staff and families of residents at an under-fire nursing home hit with a string of abuse and neglect allegations say they have been told it will close at the end of the month, the [Manchester Evening News] can reveal.

    Ashbourne House Nursing Home in Middleton, Rochdale, is at the centre of a ‘dementia doll’ row - and has faced calls to shut following a series of claims about residents being mistreated.

    A number of sources have told the M.E.N. they have been told by a manager at the home it will close on September 30.

    The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has taken enforcement action, which the home has 28 days to appeal against, but the body would not confirm the measures.

    It is understood a ‘troubleshooting’ manager sent in as a ‘last resort’ to turn the home around has told staff and families it will shut following a damning CQC inspection.

    In June, the health watchdog said Ashbourne House could face closure within six months if drastic changes were not made.

    Inspectors branded the home ‘inadequate’ and put it into special measures.

    The report - which outlined a string of health and safety regulation breaches - said residents’ ‘health and welfare’ had put people at risk and care was ‘not delivered in a thorough and dignified way’.

    Many of the inspectors’ findings corroborated the claims of whistleblowers who approached our reporters earlier this year in the wake of the M.E.N’s investigation into alleged mistreatment of dementia patients through ‘torture’ of their comfort dolls.
    Residents requiring nursing services are already in the process of leaving - or have already found alternative accommodation. The council will rehome anyone under its contract and any private residents will also be assisted.
For more, see Nursing home hit with string of abuse and neglect allegations 'set to close at end of the month' (Ashbourne House in Middleton has faced calls to shut following a series of claims about residents being mistreated).

Two Years After Taking Title To Foreclosed Nursing Home, Bank Announces Closure Of Facility, Causing Displacement Of Two Dozen Residents

In Johnson City, Tennessee, WCYB-TV Channel 5 reports:
  • The bank that has held the title on a Johnson City nursing home has announced it's closing the facility.

    Employees and families of patients at Lexington at Johnson City were recently informed of the move during a meeting held on last week.

    TruPoint Bank has kept the nursing home operational after the previous owners defaulted on a loan.

    The decision will cause 24 residents to be relocated.

    “After learning of the owners plans to shut the doors immediately in the spring of 2014, TruPoint Bank began working diligently behind the scenes, trying to avoid an abrupt closure of the Lexington,” explains Barry Elswick, president & CEO of TruPoint Bank.

    “For two years, the bank’s strategy has been twofold: we’ve sought to market the facility to grow the resident population while simultaneously seeking new ownership.”

    Since May 2014, TruPoint Bank has funded, to the extent that resident rent payments were insufficient, full operations at the facility, including costs directly related to monthly operations, major capital repairs to its elevators and boilers, demolishing a gutted building and providing new and ample parking.

    “Unfortunately, new ownership has not been secured and we are faced with this very difficult decision,” says Elswick. “We had worked toward and hoped for a very different outcome.”

    The last day of operation is October 31.
Source: Lexington at Johnson City nursing home to close doors Oct. 31 (Bank had kept facility open for two years).

Nursing Home's Abrupt Closure Leaves Devastated Elderly Patients With 48 Hours Notice To Find Alternative Accommodations; Families Of Residents Rage As They Scramble To Assist Vulnerable Loved Ones

In Hull, United Kingdom, the Hull Daily Mail reports:
  • Families of residents in an east Hull nursing home are furious after being given 48 hours to find them alternative accommodation.

    Some are believed to be dementia sufferers. Private health firm Bupa is closing the 13-bed unit at its Saltshouse Haven residential and nursing care complex in Saltshouse Road.

    The move follows a highly-critical inspection report on the home by the Care Quality Commission. It placed the home, which has a capacity of 150 beds, in special measures after being rated inadequate.

    Inspectors found Bupa was in breach of seven regulations under the Health and Social Act over the way the home was being run.

    The CQC said inadequate staffing levels had resulted in people not receiving proper levels of care, putting some of them at risk. As a result of the special measures sanction, Bupa agreed to suspend taking in new admissions with a warning that its registration to run the home could be removed unless improvements were made.

    Now the company has announced the Coniston Lodge nursing unit is to close.

    However, families with people in the unit say they have only been given 48-hours notice to find alternative accommodation for their relatives.

    One relative, who did not wish to be named, said: "Some residents who are very ill are devastated to say the least. It's a scandal."

    Another family member said: "We are frantically trying to find a place for our mother."