HUD Has Not Approved Palmer, Roosevelt House, nor Other Demolitions

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(APN) ATLANTA — The Atlanta Housing Authority has not made an application to, or received an approval from, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, for several remaining public housing communities in Atlanta, including Palmer House and Roosevelt House, Atlanta Progressive News has learned.

A City Council resolution proposed by Council Members Ivory Lee Young and Kwanza Hall, and two articles in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper state that Palmer House is stated for demolition beginning in January of 2008, in just one month, with Roosevelt House to follow in 2009. One of the articles, an AJC editorial argued the City Council’s possible approval of a Housing Relocation Task Force would impede the plans already in place.

However, if AHA indeed already planned to demolish, or begin the demolition process next month, that would be illegal.

AHA has to receive approval from HUD before they begin any demolitions, Donna White, head spokesperson for HUD, told Atlanta Progressive News.

HUD prepared a list for Atlanta Progressive News several weeks ago of approved demolitions in Atlanta upon request from the news service. HUD later deemed the list “proprietary” and would not issue it to APN voluntarily, but answered questions about specific properties on the list and the dates and number of units of approvals.

Neither Palmer nor Roosevelt House were on the list. Donna White confirmed to APN on November 30, 2007, that Palmer House had still not been approved. Neither again did Palmer nor Roosevelt House appear on a public list of applications under consideration on HUD’s website for the Special Applications Center in Chicago, Illinois, which receives applications for demolition/disposition.

Eleanor Rayton, President of the residents’ association for Palmer House, confirmed to APN that AHA told her and the Palmer House residents that relocation teams would be beginning the process of relocating residents in January 2008.

There is nothing wrong with AHA offering vouchers to public housing residents in communities where demolitions have not been approved, Donna White said.

However, most residents and members of the public encountered by this writer believe the demolitions are a done deal.

The residents believe that they have to take the vouchers because they believe they have no other choice, Diane Wright, President of the Resident Advisory Board, told Atlanta Progressive News.

AHA has not informed most of the residents nor the public about the application process to HUD. Indeed, the City Council and AJC appear to believe Palmer House was slated for demolition next month.

Councilman Ivory Lee Young has suggested the HRTF could prepare brochures and other materials for public housing residents explaining their rights. “Could a brochure have helped to mitigate it? And for me personally, I think some of this is just getting the information to people impacted in an efficient way. Knowing the challenges that seniors have in attending meetings and getting information, going the extra mile,” Young said in comments at Thursday’s Community Development and Human Resources Committee meeting of the City Council of Atlanta.

However, when community groups have attempted to make presentations to the senior residents at Palmer House, AHA has shut down their meetings, as reported previously in APN.

When Terence Courtney from Jobs with Justice was a planned special guest at a Special Call Meeting of the Palmer House resident association, AHA’s Barney Simms showed up with security and had him escorted off the property. Therefore, AHA has not only failed to provide senior residents with information about their rights, but they have actively prevented them from receiving information inconsistent with the agency’s message.

About the author:

Matthew Cardinale is the News Editor for Atlanta Progressive News and may be reached at matthew@atlantaprogressivenews.com

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