Thursday, May 18, 2017

Dozens Of Poor Tenants In Building Financed w/ Federal Affordable Housing Tax Credits Face The Boot From New Owner; Legal Aid Lawyer Argues Recent Foreclosure Doesn't Completely Wipe Out Landlord's Obligation To Provide Apartments For Low-Income Renters

In Garner, North Carolina, WTVD-TV Channel 11 reports:
  • They arrived at Wake Baptist Grove Church, not far from their apartments, still in a state of confusion.

    "Just basically devastated; are you kidding me?" said Yolanda Smith. "We're trying to determine what is really going on."

    Smith is one the dozens of Forest Hills Apartment residents caught off guard by what they took as preemptive eviction notices. Wake County commissioners were surprised as well.
    The notices were placed on residents' apartment doors on Thursday by staffers at Eller Capital Partners, the complex's new owners, informing many of these low-income residents they have to move by this Sunday.
    "I think it's just cruel and vindictive. I think they're on an attack on the poor," said community activist Octavia Rainey.

    County commissioners, a Garner town councilor and the town manager all attended the community meeting at Wake Baptist. And residents got another dose of hope.

    "Your landlord cannot evict you," George Hausen told the audience. Hausen is the executive director of Legal Aid of North Carolina.(1)

    Hausen informed residents of their fair housing rights. He says for years Forest Hills' previous owner was entered in a tax credit deal with the federal government to provide low-income housing. That deal was canceled when the property went into foreclosure in 2015. But Hausen argues Eller Capital still has a legal obligation towards those low-income residents for 3 years following the foreclosure.

    "So my reading of that is that the foreclosure took place in February 2015, I think there's a strong legal argument that says you have a right to maintain your tenancy until February of 2018," Hausen said.

    Hausen will take that argument to a judge in his effort to block the evictions. In the meantime, he is advising resident to continue to make good faith efforts to pay their rent every month as a legal paper trail they met their commitments.
For the story, see Garner eviction notices called 'an attack on the poor'.
(1) Legal Aid of North Carolina is a statewide, nonprofit law firm that provides free legal services in civil matters to low-income people in order to ensure equal access to justice and to remove legal barriers to economic opportunity. section 8 contract expire rent subsidies