Thursday, February 14, 2013

Qualls seeks HUD intervention on 748-unit Section 8 transfer

Cincinnati Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls is seeking federal intervention to stop the proposed transfer of 748 units of project-based Section 8 housing to a New York company and instead make the properties available to community developers.

In a letter sent Feb. 8 to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Columbus Field Office Acting Director Randolph Williams, Qualls asked for HUD disapproval of Downtown Property Management's request to transfer the units it owns in Avondale, English Woods, North Avondale and Walnut Hills to a corporation controlled by the Puretz family of Brooklyn, New York.

The transaction is eerily similar to one that occurred in 2007, when Downtown Property Management transferred 618 units to NY Group OH1, LLC, a company that had no prior housing experience in Cincinnati. In the four years following the transfer, the properties' value dropped from $21.5 million to $7 million at sheriff's sale, following the owner's default.

NY Group's lender, Fannie Mae, filed a foreclosure action on the properties in 2010.

"Cincinnati's residents are still recovering from the massive disinvestment that was allowed to occur with an eerily similar situation in 2010," Qualls wrote. "Preservation of the housing in good condition is vital to the improvement of our neighborhoods. Our neighborhoods cannot afford to have more blight brought on by an absentee owner."

Among the properties are:

Qualls has invited HUD Cincinnati Field Office Director James A. Cunningham to talk about the sale at the next meeting of City Council's Livable Communities Committee on Feb. 26 at 1 P.M., and has reached out to U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, and U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot for support.

"Because these properties are supported by government funding, it is vitally important that HUD get public input from the City of Cincinnati and Avondale, Walnut Hills and Millvale residents and stakeholders about this proposed new transfer of HUD funded properties before making any further decisions," Qualls wrote.

Previous reading on BC:
Evanston apartment complex uses CLRP to get more parking (8/15/08)
CLRP land could be used for parking lot (6/19/08)