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ICF International's Carole Norris moves to terminate Berkeley's public housing program
by Lynda Carson ( tenantsrule [at] yahoo.com )
Tuesday Apr 20th, 2010 7:14 AM
ICF International's Carole Norris has corrupted the Berkeley Housing Authority in an effort to enrich one or more so-called nonprofit housing developers trying to get their hands on Berkeley's public housing units of the poor!

From: Lynda Carson
510/763-1085
tenantsrule [at] yahoo.com


For Immediate Release:


ICF International's Carole Norris moves to terminate Berkeley's public housing program


When: Friday, April 23, 2010

Where: North Berkeley Senior Center
1901 Hearst Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94709

Time: 8:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

See full details further below...


April 20, 2010


ICF International's Carole Norris moves to terminate Berkeley's public housing program

Berkeley - ICF International's vice president Carole Norris plans to lead an April 23, 2010, Special Berkeley Housing Authority (BHA) "Workshop Meeting" to pound the final death blows into Berkeley's public housing program with a Disposition Plan, placing many of Berkeley's poor at risk with displacement from their long-time housing as a direct result.

ICF International (ICFi) vice president Carole Norris got herself appointed as the chair person of the BHA's board of commissioners during May of 2007, and started on her crusade to terminate Berkeley's public housing program shortly after her appointment by Berkeley's Mayor Tom Bates.

ICFi's Carole Norris is part of a growing industry that makes a profit by showing Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) how to profit on their public housing units by dumping the poor from their housing, and selling the emptied public housing units to a so-called nonprofit developer in a sweetheart partnership deal that allows tens of thousands of dollars to be kicked back to the housing authority for many years after the public housing units are privatized, sold, and converted into the Project-Based Voucher Program. The minutes of one recent BHA meeting revealed that Berkeley may receive around $145,000 per year in kick backs from a local developer if it can get it's hands on the 75 public housing units, belonging to Berkeley's poor.

As for the BHA, in addition to being a troubled agency with it's public housing program since 2005 according to HUD, the BHA has been corrupted to such extremes by ICFi's Carole Norris, that the BHA appears to have become an extension of one of ICF International's programs, resulting in the proposed termination of Berkeley's public housing program, and the possible displacement of many low-income families.

It was during late December 2009, at the direction of ICFi / chair Norris, the BHA filed a Disposition Plan with HUD to announce that the BHA intends to terminate it's public housing program, and intends to sell it's occupied public housing units to a nonprofit developer. The BHA expected HUD's approval sometime in April 2010, to terminate Berkeley's public housing program.

As Berkeley's low-income community remains shocked, shocked by corruption taking place in the BHA with ICFi's Carole Norris and her crusade to terminate Berkeley's public housing program, in a March 27, 2010, letter to HUD's Stephen Schneller, BHA's Executive Director Tia Ingram describes the status of the "Disposition Plan" as something that has created a lot of anxiety and unrest for Berkeley's public housing residents, and in the March 27 letter to Schneller, Ingram assures HUD that the BHA is attempting to limit any activity that would cause or contribute to any further unrest among Berkeley's residential public housing population, as a result of the disposition plan.

Berkeley's public housing residents have rejected, and spoken out against the Disposition Plan, and have demanded the resignations of ICFi's Carole Norris and Tia Ingram, from the BHA in recent months.

Based on the results of a July 2009, BHA consultants report, 86.5% of the residents in the BHA's public housing program identify themselves as Black / African-American, 11.2 % as white, and 2.2% as Asian, and the report states that the BHA only makes around $607 per month from subsidies, including rent charges to tenants, for a three to four bedroom public housing unit.

Additionally, there is very little turnover of the housing units, and the families have been there for a very long time according to BHA staff who noted that no one has moved in recent memory, except for three families who moved due to evictions. In addition, except for three rental units needing renovation, Berkeley's 75 public housing units are fully occupied.

With the Disposition Plan, ICFi's Carole Norris is clearly trying to open the door to destroy Berkeley's public housing program, so that she can privatize and sell the public housing units to a local nonprofit developer that can make as much as $1,932 per month, per unit, by converting the 75 units to the Section 8 Project-Based voucher program. The units are being offered to one or more developers, and these developers are not interested in having the units already occupied, when getting their unclean hands on Berkeley's public housing units. The developers want the units emptied before the sale tales place.

As a highly payed consultant in ICF International's San Francisco office who's expertise is in displacing low-income communities by offering so-called community revitalization schemes to local cities in the Bay Area, Carole Norris has strategically placed herself as the BHA's chair board member where she can directly influence and initiate the process to terminate Berkeley's public housing program in a scheme to enrich a few local developers that are interested in getting their hands on Berkeley's very valuable three and four bedroom 75 town house, public housing units.

The BHA's consultants (EJP Consulting Group) hired at the direction of ICFi's Carole Norris, have been in discussions and interviews in recent months with local nonprofit developers, property managers and funders to test the feasibility of the disposition scheme, in an effort to see who would be interested in buying Berkeley's public housing units, and kicking money back to the BHA. The discussions included, Ryan Chao, director of Satellite Housing, Dan Sawislak, director of Resources for Community Development, Susan Friedland and Angela Cavanaugh of Affordable Housing Associates, Jack Gardner, President and CEO of the John Stewart Company, Margaret Schrand, VP and Manager of Wells Fargo Bank, Community Lending Division, and Christine Daniel, Deputy City Manager, City of Berkeley.

According to the consultant's report, during the discussions taking place, specific concerns were expressed by those being interviewed who believed that Berkeley's public housing residents are highly politicized and organized, and are worried about the ability for a new owner or property manager to successfully carry out lease enforcement, in the Berkeley setting.

Those responding to the consultants also mentioned the potential political and financial risks to their organizations if they were to take on such a high profile and challenging redevelopment scheme.

The concerns being expressed may have directly led to the BHA's decision to try to pressure the public housing residents out of their long-time housing and relocate them under the guise of proposed renovations, as a way to assist the nonprofit developers who want the tenants removed, before signing any contracts to buy the properties.

The soon to be April 23, "Workshop Meeting" may also cost the BHA an additional $7,500 just to have members of the EJP Consultant Group ( Eric Novak & Scott Jepsen ) as part of the workshop discussions, for a total sum of $69,770 being payed to EJP Consulting for it's services to ICFi's Carole Norris, in the effort to devise a plan to terminate Berkeley's public housing program.

It's notable that Berkeley's public housing tenants are protected by "Good Cause" eviction laws that clearly state it is not a good cause to evict when selling a residential property, and ICFi's Carole Norris may be trying to get around Berkeley's eviction protection laws by pressuring the tenants into signing agreements to give up their rights as public housing tenants, in an effort to please the so-called nonprofit developers involved in the scheme.

In response to the plight of Berkeley's public housing tenants, "It's reprehensible that Berkeley, a city in the forefront of social justice movements, that the citizens would not rise up against the dishonesty of the greed of the developers and their influence on the BHA. I for one, would encourage more organization among Berkeley's tenant population to strongly oppose these draconian measures," said former Commissioner of Berkeley's Rent Stabilization Board, Eleanor Walden.

Public housing tenant Keith Carlisle said, "Among the dead and the living, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Helen Keller and other blind and sighted people can clearly see the objectives of the BHA, which are to run poor black people out of Berkeley under the thinly veiled guise of urban renewal. This is nothing short of ethnic and economic cleansing."

It was on October 27, 2009, that Berkeley's long-time public housing families were notified that the BHA was soon to file a Disposition Plan to terminate Berkeley's public housing program, and the families were informed that when they are required to relocate due to the scheme to displace them from their long-time housing, they will be served a 90 Day Notice beforehand.

The attack on Berkeley's poor, and the conflict of interest with ICF International's Carole Norris position as the Chair Commissioner in running the Berkeley Housing Authority is corrupt, blatant, and should be under investigation by the Attorney General of the State of California, and HUD's Inspector General.

The BHA has been totally corrupted to such extremes by ICF International's Carole Norris, that the BHA appears to have become an extension of one of ICF Internationals programs that proposes to dump Berkeley's poor from their housing, so that Berkeley's public housing units can be privatized, sold, and converted into some money making machines for one or more so-called nonprofit developers.

Lynda Carson may be reached at, tenantsrule [at] yahoo.com


See details further below, of the April 23 "Workshop" at the North Berkeley Senior Center.


Click directly below for more on the ICF International office in San Francisco, and the activities of Carole Norris...

http://tinyurl.com/y5wrjkn


Carole Norris.
+1.415.677.7154 p.
+1.415.677.7177 f.
CNorris [at] icfi.com

ICF International
394 Pacific Avenue,
2nd Floor. San Francisco,
CA 94111-1715


(Notice of April 23, "SPECIAL WORKSHOP" meeting to implement the termination of Berkeley's public housing program.)


SPECIAL MEETING OF THE BOARD OF THE
BERKELEY HOUSING AUTHORITY AGENDA


Click here; http://tinyurl.com/y44v9zs

Friday, April 23, 2010
North Berkeley Senior Center
1901 Hearst Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94709
8:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

BHA Commissioners

CAROLE NORRIS, CHAIR
VALERIE AGOSTINO
Dorthy Hunt
Adolph Moody
Katharine Gale
Marjorie Cox


1. Call to Order
2. Roll Call
3. Comments from the Public

Public comments are limited to three minutes per speaker.

WORKSHOP

Low Income Public Housing Disposition Project
EJP Consulting, Inc

I. Reports on Low Income Public Housing Disposition

A. Background & Activities (10 Min) Tia Ingram, Executive Director
1. HUD Memorandum of Agreement
2. BHA Actions/Activities to Date
3. Disposition Goals
4. Alternatives to Disposition

B. Disposition Project-Oakland Housing Authority (30 Min)

Jon Gresley, Executive Director

C. Overview/Evaluation of Alternative Approaches to Disposition (90 Min)

Eric Novak & Scott Jepsen, EJP Consulting


D. Impact of Disposition on Section 8 Program (10 Min) Finance Committee

II. Action Calendar from LIPH Feasibility Committee

A. Consideration of a resolution confirming the preferred disposition option is to a third party developer, independent of the Berkeley Housing Authority, with the following two provisions: (i) that all units remain affordable rental units and (ii) all of the units remain 3 or 4 bedroom units.

B. Consideration of a resolution authorizing the Executive Director, working with the LIPH Feasibility Committee, to take the next steps to implement the preferred option, including developing and issuing a Request for Proposals for a third-party developer, and executing an appropriate contract with the Relocation Consultant.

5. Adjournment

1901 Fairview Street, Berkeley, CA 94703 Tel: 510.981.5470 Fax: 510.981.5480 Relay Service – dial 711, then call 510.981.5485 E-mail bha [at] ci.berkeley.ca.us