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BHA needs $400,000 to privatize Berkeley's 75 public housing units

by Lynda Carson (tenantsrule [at] yahoo.com)
On April 3, 2012, the Berkeley Housing Authority is seeking $300,000 in general funds from Berkeley's Housing Trust Fund (HTF), to cover the costs associated with the privatization and sale of Berkeley's 75 public housing units to some out of state billionaires!

BHA needs $400,000 to privatize Berkeley's 75 public housing units

By Lynda Carson -- March 30, 2012

Berkeley -- The Berkeley Housing Authority (BHA) needs $400,000 in what are being called "predevelopment costs," to privatize and sell Berkeley's 75 public housing town-homes, to billionaire's Jorge M. Perez and Stephen M. Ross, of the Related Companies of California, LLC, (a.k.a. Berkeley 75 Housing Partners, L.P.).

Expenses include $97,000 for relocation consulting fees (scheme to displace public housing tenants), plus $100,000 for the relocation costs of the tenants, and $38,000 in HUD disposition consulting fees, plus $60,000 in legal consulting fees.

Additionally, according to the BHA, $42,000 is needed for enhanced security costs of the public housing units after they become vacant, and to ensure the safety of the remaining residents and surrounding neighborhoods. The BHA also needs $10,000 for construction consultant fees, and $50,000 for a contingency plan. A total of $400,000 in what are being called predevelopment costs to privatize and sell Berkeley's public housing units, to some out of state billionaires.

On April 3, 2012, the BHA is seeking $300,000 in general funds from Berkeley's Housing Trust Fund (HTF), to cover the costs associated with the privatization, sale and rehabilitation of Berkeley's 75 public housing units, in an item scheduled to appear before the Berkeley City Council on the consent calendar, known as "Item 34c, the Predevelopment Loan to Berkeley Housing Authority."

The BHA expects to receive an additional $100,000 in the deal to privatize Berkeley's public housing units from the Related Companies of California, LLC, after all the public housing residents have been forced to execute relocation agreements, and 75% of the residents who will permanently have to relocate have done so.

According to public records, the BHA is willing to advance it's own funds to start the relocation work (displacement of tenants), but needs a reimbursement from the City's loan funds to operate it's Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program, in the meantime.

Berkeley's just cause or "good cause eviction protections" state that landlords are not allowed to evict or displace tenants in residential buildings when a residential building is being sold, but that has not deterred the BHA deal with Related from moving forward with the plans to force the low-income renters to relocate from their long-time public housing, prior to transfer of Berkeley's 75 public housing town-homes to billionaire's Jorge M. Perez, and Stephen M. Ross.

On March 18, 2012, several public housing housing tenants expressed alarm at the prospect of being forced out of their long-time housing. Terry Pete is a long-time public housing tenant in Berkeley since 1988, and said, "It is not fair that they are selling Berkeley's public housing, and I am very concerned about what is going on. I have lived in Berkeley all of my life, and I do not fully understand what is happening to my housing at this time."

Public housing tenant Rhonda Rodgers said, "We have received notices lately stating that the BHA wants us to move. There were 2 meetings last week to tell us about the plan to sell Berkeley's 75 public housing units and how they want us to move, but hardly anyone showed up at the meetings. It's really crazy what they are trying to do to us, and we can not believe what they are telling us anymore. They want us to move out of our homes by next August. I have been a resident here for 13 years, and I do not want to move. I am a fighter and want to stay where I am at."

James E. Vann who was the architect for Berkeley's public housing units back in the early to mid 80s is shocked by the plan to sell it's valuable public housing and said, "The city and BHA promised to keep it's public housing permanent (in perpetuity) to receive a special "Title 1 Grant" of funding from HUD to build that housing for the poor, and now they are breaking their promise to current and future generations of the poor, who desperately need low-income housing to remain in their communities."

During July of 2009, against the best interest's of Berkeley's existing long-time public housing families, the BHA adopted the recommendation of it's consultant, EJP Consultant Group, to embark on a project to privatize and sell Berkeley's 75 public housing units.

In September, 2011, the BHA announced that it was planning to sell Berkeley's 75 public housing units to The Related Companies of California, LLC, and announced 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.

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 (DDLA), 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 the DDLA, the BHA has agreed to pay for the permanent relocation of Berkeley's public housing families (28 families or more) prior to the transfer of the public housing units to Related, and that Related will not submit funding applications for the project until all residents have executed relocation agreements, and 75% of the residents who will permanently relocate have done so. Other public housing residents are being told that they only have to temporarily move from their long-time housing, provided that they can somehow manage to qualify to move back in, at an unannounced later date. As of February 1, 2012, the BHA had 63 occupied public housing units, out of 75 units.

Item 34c, the Predevelopment Loan to Berkeley Housing Authority, is scheduled to be voted on by the Berkeley City Council, on the evening of April 3, 2012.

No one could be reached for comment from the BHA for this story.

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

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