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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: East Bay | Health, Housing, and Public Services
HUD approves Berkeley's public housing disposition scheme
HUD approves the scheme to privatize Berkeley's public housing, threatening Berkeley's poor with displacement from their long time housing!
HUD approves Berkeley's public housing disposition scheme
by Lynda Carson -- January 5, 2011
Berkeley -- Berkeley's poor are about to lose their public housing units to privatization and to one or more greedy non profit developers, as public housing tenants across the nation are fighting back against the latest schemes to privatize our nations 1.2 million public housing units.
Like many cities across the nation that have decided to make a profit by privatizing and selling off their public housing units, Berkeley is seeking one or more non profit housing developers that are willing to buy Berkeley's 75 public housing units, in a scheme that allows the developers to kick-back money to the City of Berkeley. Berkeley is desperately trying to cut back on it's spending budgets, and to bring in more additional revenues to the city.
On Tuesday January 4, 2011, Berkeley's public housing residents received the latest Berkeley Housing Authority (BHA) news letter, that among other things mentions that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has approved the BHA's proposed scheme to dispose of Berkeley's 75 "three and four bedroom" town home public housing units, to one or more local non profit housing developers.
During Wednesday, January 5, several of Berkeley's public housing residents confirmed that as recent as December 29, 2010, HUD gave the final approval for the BHA's plan to dispose of Berkeley's public housing units, and they further stated that the residents of Berkeley's 75 public housing units may face displacement from their public housing as soon as sometime during July, 2011.
It was on December 31, 2009, that the BHA submitted an inventory removal application (disposition plan) to HUD seeking permission to dispose of Berkeley's public housing, and the BHA had expected HUD approval for the disposition scheme to occur during April 2010. HUD approval came 8 months later than originally expected.
Currently, now that the BHA has received approval to dispose of the public housing units belonging to Berkeley's poor, some tenants are already expecting to receive "90 Day Notices' ordering them to vacate their households soon, and by sometime before July, 2011.
Others are waiting to see what to expect next from the BHA, and the non profit developers interested in making a fortune from the proposed disposition scheme, that will displace many poor families from their long time homes.
Some tenants expect to be railroaded or pressured into having private meetings with some so-called relocation consultants (Overland, Pacific, and Cutler, Inc.) hired by the BHA, that may try to trick the public housing residents into signing something that gives up their rights to their current housing.
Additionally, Berkeley's public housing tenants are protected by local Just Cause anti-eviction laws that state it is not a "good cause" to evict when a landlord (including the BHA) wants to sell an occupied rental property, to a new prospective owner. Some of Berkeley's public housing tenants may choose to exert their rights, and fight against any attempts to unlawfully evict them from their housing, as a result of the disposition scheme.
Regardless of what the tenants want, the BHA and City of Berkeley plan to displace Berkeley's poor from their public housing units before one or more local non profit developers buys the properties through a soon to be bidding process, and before the transfer of titles take place. A bidding conference should occur soon, now that HUD has approved the plan to dispose of Berkeley's public housing, and it's poor.
Documents reveal that the BHA have already been involved in discussions with Ryan Chao, Executive Director of Satellite Housing, Dan Sawislak, Executive Director of Resources for Community Development, Susan Friedland, Executive Director of Affordable Housing Associates, and Jack Gardner, President and CEO, of the John Stewart Company.
Since HUD approved of the scheme to dispose of Berkeley's public housing units, EJP Consultants are expected to appear at the soon to be bidders conference, to assist the BHA in determining which non profit developer/s will buy Berkeley's public housing units, resulting in the displacement of Berkeley's poor.
EJP Consultants have already charged the BHA a minimum of $38,000 and thousands of dollars more to assist the BHA in the process to dispose of Berkeley's public housing units, including additional fees to cover some extra expenses because it took HUD longer than expected to give approval to the disposition plan.
EJP Consultants specialize in public housing authority projects that result in the displacement of thousands of poor people from their public housing units, including displacement schemes such as Hope Vl Projects, and Disposition Projects.
The matter of kick-backs was brought up during an earlier November 23, meeting when Scott Jepson of EJP Consultants advised Mayor Tom Bates that Berkeley could make money off of it's public housing, if a non profit developer could take over Berkeley's public housing units.
According to records, Jepson stated that there are some major differences in what the BHA currently collects from it's Low-Income Public Housing Program, compared to what private landlords can make from the Section 8 program. Jepson stated that if the public housing units were sold to a non profit developer and the units were converted to receive Project-Based Section 8 funding, the operator could use the difference between the costs of operations and payment from Section 8, to return some of the additional funding revenues being collected, back to the city.
At the same meeting, Berkeley Councilman Darrel Moore asked how much could a developer generate for the BHA and City of Berkeley if they took over Berkeley's public housing units, and the EJP consultant stated, $145,000 per year.
Taking the advice of the consultants from EJP, Berkeley plans to privatize it's public housing, and sell it's public housing to one or more local non profit developers that will convert the units to the Project-Based Section 8 Program.
The developer/s then plan to charge over market rate rents to the new "poor" tenants that move into their project, after transfer of ownership of the properties take place.
The poor tenants will be subsidized through the Section 8 program by the federal government to help pay the extra high rents being charged, and some of that funding is expected to be kicked-back to the City of Berkeley, by the developer/s involved in the privatization and take over of Berkeley's public housing units.
Meanwhile in Washington D.C., in a further effort to privatize 1.2 million public housing units all across the nation, HUD had new legislation introduced to Congress known as H.R. 6468, as recent as December 1, 2010.
H.R. 6468 is also known as the Rental Housing Revitalization Act.
H.R. 6468 was introduced after HUD's recent earlier proposals to privatize public housing that was called PETRA had hit a brick wall, with thousands of public housing residents speaking out in opposition to any efforts to privatize and sell off their public housing. PETRA is still alive and well in the many new amendments within the latest proposal known as the Rental Housing Revitalization Act.
Thousands across the nation have fought back against the efforts to privatize public housing because privatization places public housing at risk of bank foreclosure, displaces the poor from their housing, causes higher rents for the poor, and strips public housing residents of their rights and protections as public housing tenants.
Lynda Carson may be reached at, tenantsrule [at] yahoo.com