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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: East Bay | Health, Housing, and Public Services
Berkeley's public housing tenants are being pressured to move
Despite being protected by Berkeley's Just Cause eviction protections that prohibit landlords from evicting tenants in residential buildings that are being sold, Berkeley's public housing tenants are being pressured to move from their long-time public housing units before the 75 public housing units are sold to billionaire's Jorge M. Perez and Stephen M. Ross, of The Related Companies!
Berkeley's public housing tenants are being pressured to move
By Lynda Carson -- March 15, 2012
Berkeley - Berkeley's public housing tenants have been recently receiving relocation notices that are intended to pressure them into giving up their long time public housing units to some billionaire's from The Related Companies, that are in negotiations with the Berkeley Housing Authority (BHA) to buy Berkeley's occupied 75 public housing town-homes.
During September, 2011, the Berkeley Housing Authority (BHA) announced that it was planning to sell Berkeley's 75 public housing units to The Related Companies of California, LLC (Owned by billionaires, Stephen M. Ross and Jorge M. Perez), and that the BHA has entered into an exclusive negotiating rights agreement with The Related Companies of California, LLC, that will last 90 days, with a possible 30 day extension to negotiate the full terms of the deal.
Billionaires Jorge M. Perez and Stephen M. Ross, of The Related Companies, set their sights on buying Berkeley's 75 occupied public housing units in a complicated deal that edged out the Bay Area's local nonprofit housing developers. Many of Berkeley's low-income families may be displaced and placed at risk of homelessness, if the billionaires get their hands on Berkeley's public housing.
On March 8, 2012, the board members of the BHA voted to authorize the executive director, Tia Ingram, to execute the Disposition Development and Loan Agreement, as part of the on-going process to sell the BHA's 75 public housing units to billionaire's Jorge M. Perez and Stephen M. Ross, of The Related Companies (a.k.a. Berkeley 75 Housing Partners, L.P.).
According to Berkeley's public housing tenants, there is currently an urgency to get the tenants to move quickly from their long time public housing units. According to one tenant, the tenants are being pressured by the BHA and it's relocation agent Overland, Pacific and Cutler (OPC), and are being told that they have to move quickly to fill out the forms needed to get through the relocation process, because the BHA is claiming that there is a shortage of Section 8 vouchers available to assist the tenants to relocate to another location, before the public housing units are sold.
Additionally, BHA executive director, Tia Ingram, has indicated that the date of tenant relocation is important because it relates to how long the BHA continues to manage the units prior to selling them to The Related Companies.
As recent as March 2, 2012, staff and members of the BHA had a meeting with the Housing Advisory Commission in Berkeley, to discuss the application and approval of the $700,000 Housing Trust Fund allocation reserved for the disposition project (selling of 75 public housing units), which includes $400,000 to subsidize the predevelopment costs, for billionaire's Jorge M. Perez and Stephen M. Ross.
Indeed, despite Berkeley's tough fiscal financial budget times, the city is still planning to subsidize the billionaires that want to buy Berkeley's public housing units to the tune of $400,000. Money that would be better spent to assist the homeless population, elderly and disabled.
The other $300,000 of the trust fund is slated to be used to relocate Berkeley's public housing tenants from their housing, before the billionaires buy the 75 public housing units. Additionally, on March 8, the board members of the BHA voted to authorize temporary use of $300,000 from the BHA public housing program reserve for relocation activities. As of February 1, 2012, the BHA had 63 occupied public housing units.
Displacement Of Berkeley's Public Housing Tenants
Berkeley's long-time low-income public housing tenants have been sold out by those that were supposed to protect them, and the Berkeley Housing Authority plans to displace all of it's public housing tenants from their homes before the 75 public housing units are sold to billionaires Ross and Perez.
Some families may qualify to move back after the public housing units are rehabilitated and privatized, if they are lucky. Other families are being displaced, screwed, and dumped onto the cold hearted streets of Berkeley.
Around 28 families will not be allowed to move back into their current housing units after the public units are privatized and sold to the billionaires, including 18 families that are allegedly over-housed. In addition, public housing tenants that are over-income or are over-housed, will not be eligible for Section 8 vouchers to assist them when the public housing units are sold, according to project manager Kathleen Sims.
Despite the extreme hardship for all the low-income families facing displacement from their long time public housing units, especially those that may face homelessness if the units are sold to billionaires Ross and Perez, Councilmember Jesse Arreguin is repeatedly on record as stating that he supports the disposition plan (selling of Berkeley's public housing).
Though the negotiations to sell Berkeley's public housing units are still not complete, the BHA is moving ahead forward with a relocation plan to displace Berkeley's low-income public housing tenants from their long time public housing, as though it is already a done deal.
The BHA/Agency negotiators involved in selling Berkeley's public housing units include BHA's executive director Tia Ingram, consultants Eric Novak and Scott Jepsen, and attorney Jennifer Bell, with Lydia Tan, and Donald Lusty negotiating on behalf of the billionaires Jorge M. Perez and Stephen M. Ross, of The Related Companies of California, LLC.
Billionaires Jorge M. Perez and Stephen M. Ross
Jorge M. Perez, is also known as the "Condo King" of Miami, Florida, because he has developed and owns so many condominiums in that region, through The Related Companies/Related Group. He is also known as a billionaire Cuban American real estate developer.
Perez is also the majority owner of The Related Companies, which is also the parent company of The Related Companies of California, LLC, another wealthy housing development corporation.
With political connections directly to the White House, Perez a co-founder of The Related Companies has been a major political fundraiser for President Barack Obama, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and was an advisor to ex-President Bill Clinton during his term in office.
In 2010, it was reported that Perez owned 75% of The Related Companies, and that billionaire Stephen M. Ross a 95% owner of the Miami Dolphins football franchise, owned 25% of the billion dollar development company that wants to buy Berkeley's 75 public housing units.
Lynda Carson may be reached at tenantsrule [at] yahoo.com