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EBALDC's renovation project threatens Section 8 tenants with displacement
by Lynda Carson ( tenantsrule [at] yahoo.com )
Sunday Sep 23rd, 2012 6:50 AM
Many of the same low-income tenants that EBALDC was shedding crocodile tears over in front of Oakland city officials in the effort to secure the loans for what is being called the Effie's House Project, are now facing displacement from their housing as a direct result of the massive renovation project that is occurring at 829 E. 19th St., in Oakland.

EBALDC's renovation project threatens Section 8 tenants with displacement

By Lynda Carson -- September 23, 2012

Oakland - In a shady deal that threatens to displace some low-income subsidized voucher holder tenants from their one-bedroom rental apartments in a 21 unit residential building, one of Oakland's largest non profit housing developers known as the East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (EBALDC) has falsely listed all of the one-bedroom apartments at Effie's House (829 E. 19th. St.), as being "Project-Based Section 8 Apartments" in the housing application forms being given to low-income renters seeking housing.

In contrast to EBALDC's false claims listing all of the one-bedroom apartments (10 units in total) at Effie's House as being project-based Section 8 apartments, there are a minimum of four one-bedroom rental apartments or more that are already occupied with low-income residents that have Section 8 vouchers or Shelter Plus vouchers. Low-income renters with Section 8 vouchers generally pay 30 percent of their income to the landlord for their rent every month, and the government subsidizes the rest.

The low-income tenants residing in the one-bedroom apartments with Section 8 vouchers or Shelter Plus vouchers at Effie's House are not in any project-based Section 8 apartments which is an all together different kind of subsidized housing program that is coveted by non profit landlords that are seeking long-term funding for their residential buildings, subsidized housing projects, and housing renovation projects.

These are separate and distinct kinds of subsidized housing programs and the low-income renters with Section 8 vouchers and Shelter Plus vouchers at Effie's House are forbidden by federal law from residing in project-based Section 8 apartments, at the same time their housing needs are being subsidized through their subsidized housing vouchers.

The low-income renters in the one-bedroom apartments at Effie's House that have Section 8 vouchers or Shelter Plus vouchers have not been notified or advised, if their apartments have actually been converted into project-based Section 8 apartments.

Additionally, for EBALDC to legally convert the one-bedroom apartments into project-based Section 8 apartments at Effie's House, the non profit housing developer will have to displace or evict all of the long-term low-income renters with Section 8 vouchers or Shelter Plus vouchers from their one-bedroom apartments, or pressure the low-income renters into giving up their Section 8 vouchers or Shelter Plus vouchers if they want to remain there. Some of the tenants with subsidized housing vouchers facing displacement from their one bedroom apartments have resided at Effie's House for as long as 10 to 12 years.

A summary of EBALDC's rental housing properties that are currently being listed in their "Application Packages" reveals that EBALDC has all of the one-bedroom apartments at Effie's House listed as being project-based section 8 apartments. Click on link and scroll down 11 pages to the "Summary Of Properties" for a listing of Effie's House: http://tinyurl.com/9ygg2px

Additional documentation in the form of a public notice that was released by the Oakland Housing Authority sometime during 2009 that is called "Public Notice Of Project Selection For Participation In The Project-Based Voucher Program," also indicates that ten project-based vouchers have been awarded to EBALDC for Effie's House. Click here for press release: http://tinyurl.com/cxx96ph

The public notice released by the Oakland Housing Authority (OHA) was not distributed by the OHA to the Section 8 voucher tenants or Shelter Plus voucher tenants residing at Effie's House, nor has the housing authority notified the Section 8 voucher tenants or Shelter Plus voucher tenants at Effie's House that EBALDC has converted their one-bedroom apartments into project-based section 8 apartments.

Public records also reveal that on March 16, 2010, the Oakland City Council voted to loan EBALDC a total of $2,517,000 for a massive renovation project currently taking place at Effie's House. As part of the effort to secure long-term funding to cover the cost of the loans of more than $2.5 million from the City of Oakland for the massive renovation project taking place at Effie's House, apparently EBALDC made a deal in advance with the Oakland Housing Authority to obtain 10 project-based vouchers for the building at 829 E. 19th St.

Buildings that have project-based Section 8 apartments in them are required to have much higher housing quality standards than most other rental housing buildings that have Section 8 voucher tenants or Shelter Plus voucher tenants in them, and the massive renovation project at Effie's House started around a year ago. Sometime around mid August or early September 2011.

At times during the past year EBALDC would force the residents out of their apartments for as long as 5 days or more, because the massive renovation project involved the disturbing of hazardous materials in their apartments, in the hallways and common areas of the building.

As recent as July 27, 2012, without any notice in advance being served to the residents at Effie's House by EBALDC, suddenly a crew of workers appeared and started installing scaffolding around the exterior of the building (4 floors total), including a dark black filthy thick mesh/net that covers the scaffolding on all floors of the building. The result is that the resident's apartments are shrouded in a sort of never ending type of darkness since the installation of the scaffolding, due to the lack of sunlight reaching their apartments.

During a discussion with a vice president of AmOne Corporation, which is the contractor hired by EBALDC to do the renovation project at Effie's House, he stated that he served EBALDC a notice two weeks in advance before the installation of the scaffolding was to occur. He seemed surprised that EBALDC failed to serve the residents a notice in advance regarding the installation of the scaffolding, and the massive project taking place to remove hazardous materials from the exterior of the building.

The massive project to remove hazardous materials (including asbestos and lead-based paint covered siding) from the exterior of the building by Sterling Environmental Corp., took several weeks to a month to occur, and had some of the residents frightened to such extremes that some residents were afraid to open their windows for weeks at a time. The residents kept their windows and doors closed as much as possible to avoid having their apartments contaminated by the dust particles swirling around the building, from the massive project taking place to remove the hazardous materials from the building. Air monitors were placed in the lobby of the building by ACC Environmental Consultants, and other locations around the building to measure the air quality at times while the hazardous materials were being removed from the building.

The massive renovation project has resulted in many of the residents feeling deep emotional distress since the project began, leaving some residents in tears, and feeling suicidal. There has already been two deaths that has occurred at Effie's House during recent years, including the death of Greg Laney who leapt to his death from the rooftop of the building, and Ms. Penney who was found dead in her apartment by one her care givers.

Currently the scaffolding and dark mesh/net material is still surrounding the building that has placed the residential apartments in darkness throughout most of the day. Now that most of the hazardous materials have been removed from the exterior of the building new siding is currently being installed on the exterior of the building, and the exterior of the building is also being re-painted.

Since the scaffolding has been installed around the building it has been a brutal experience for the residents at Effie's House due to the excessive levels of noise occurring from the workers on the scaffolding all day long, week after week. The continuous pounding of hammers on the outside of their apartments day after day, and currently the loud sound of air compressed nail guns being shot into the exterior walls of the building day after day, have resulted in many of the residents becoming frightened and afraid to reside in the building. Some residents have also complained that the construction workers are peering into their apartments at times from the scaffolding that has been installed. It is a very frightening experience for some of the residents that are feeling that they are totally being abused by EBALDC, and the massive renovation project taking place at Effie's House.

The residents are being forced to go along with all of the brutal demands being made by EBALDC during the renovation project that started taking place around a year ago, and the residents are being threatened with eviction if they fail to comply with EBALDC's demands, or they may face eviction if the residents find it impossible to meet EBALDC's demands at any given moment.

The residents at Effie's House have totally lost control of their own apartments during the past year, have been stripped of their right to privacy, and their right to the quiet and peaceful enjoyment of their homes since the massive renovation project started. The tenants have bitterly complained that EBALDC has been abusing them, due to the never ending demands to enter their apartments since the massive renovation project began.

In recent weeks residents have complained that EBALDC staff have started a whispering campaign in the building which has been causing even more emotional distress among the residents. Some of the residents claim that EBALDC staff have told them that they are planning to cut off the water in the building, and are planning to replace all of the water pipes throughout the whole building. As of yet, no notices have been placed in writing to the residents regarding the threats to cut off their water.

What is most shocking about the massive renovation project taking place to convert the one-bedroom apartments into project-based section 8 apartments at Effie's House is that EBALDC has used and abused all of the poor low-income renters at Effie's House that are now facing displacement from their rental apartments, in the effort to secure the loans for the massive renovation project.

Public records reveal that during a November 3, 2008, Central City East Project Area Committee meeting, where EBALDC was seeking funding for what is now being called the Effie's House Project ($2.5 million renovation project), Mary-Lucero Dorst of EBALDC told the committee members that Effie's House has 21 units and houses low-income residents earning incomes ranging from $10,000 to $53,000, with only two of their residents at that time earning more than $40,000 a year.

Many of those same low-income tenants that EBALDC was shedding crocodile tears over in front of city officials in the effort to secure the loans for what is being called the Effie's House Project, are now facing displacement from their housing as a direct result of the massive renovation project that is occurring at 829 E. 19th St., in Oakland.

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

Note: Lynda Carson is a long-time resident of Effie's House.