WSB-TV Misreports on Public Housing Eviction Status

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(APN) ATLANTA — WSB Channel 2 television news program misled the public on the status of evictions for the Bowen Homes public housing community in two reports on December 27, 2007.

“Residents have until May 2008 to move so the City can demolish the complex,” anchor Amanda Rosseter said after a daytime report by John Cater.

However, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development has not approved any applications for Bowen Homes, or several other communities in Atlanta, and thus no residents should be told at this time that they will be forced to move.

HUD spokeswoman Donna White reiterated to Atlanta Progressive News in a recent interview that AHA cannot pursue evictions and demolitions without HUD approval.

WSB repeated the false claim in its evening report. “Residents have until May of next year to move so the City of Atlanta can demolish the complex,” Jovita Moore said.

AHA ALSO MISLEADS

WSB may have gotten the misleading information from AHA. “In the face of the delays caused by the opponents, families are scheduled to begin leaving the property in May 2006 [sic],” AHA spokesman Rick White, of the private Alisias corporation, wrote in a recent email to media obtained by Atlanta Progressive News.

Rick White appears to have made a typo writing 2006, which would be in the past, and likely meant 2008, which is AHA’s target date should applications be approved. Still, AHA does not have the authority to schedule evictions without approval from HUD.

RESIDENT LEADER RESPONDS

“They [WSB] don’t know what the hell they talking about, do they? They are something else. I think they should cover the truth. And I think they should look deeper into what AHA’s doing. And they don’t have any applications in to even tell residents they should have to move,” Diane Wright, President of the Resident Advisory Board told Atlanta Progressive News.

“They [residents] believe it, and it puts fear in them,” Wright said.

Several residents from communities all over Atlanta called Wright asking questions about the WSB report, she said.

“Some of the presidents were saying, if they did that to their site, what will they do to ours?” Wright recalled.

AJC ALSO REPORTED UNAPPROVED EVICTIONS

Unfortunately, WSB is not the only organization improperly stating that residents have to move at this time.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper, which like WSB is also owned by Cox Communications, repeatedly stated that residents of Palmer House were to start moving in January 2008, even though no applications are in for that community either.

AHA USING RELOCATION TEAMS EARLY

Moreover, the Atlanta Housing Authority has also stated they will be meeting with individual residents living in communities that they would like to demolish, beginning in January 2008, to prepare them to move. Barney Simms and Renee Bentley explained this to residents at a meeting they called at Hollywood Courts community attended by APN.

If they follow through on this plan, they would do so without approval from HUD.

“They’re [AHA] doing business as usual, defrauding the people. Telling them, they have to move, and not telling the truth about there’s no application in. They haven’t had public hearings, they’re not doing what they supposed to do. That comes from HUD’s regulations, not ours,” Wright said.

“They should be able to have consultation with the residents. They’re not doing that. They pull us together and tell us it’s a consultation and tell us to do what they want us to do, which is to get out,” Wright said.

2007 YEAR END UPDATE

APN previously reported that AHA sent in fabricated documents to HUD for applications for five communities in 2007. HUD promised APN’s report would be forward to the Director of Public and Indian Housing as well as the Office of the Inspector General.

To this date, APN has not received any communication from HUD about the information, nor a request for the supporting documents.

APN also made the documents available to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and faxed them to NBC’s 11 Alive News, although they have not reported the information to date.

APN has provided the documents to Council Members Moore, Ivory Young, and Mary Norwood.

City Councilwoman Felicia Moore and Ms. Wright tell APN that HUD did have representatives in Atlanta at a recent meeting between AHA and resident leaders, a sign they have increased scrutiny of the agency.

At least one HUD official told AHA in that meeting they were not doing enough to consult with the residents and they improperly already had their plans in place, Moore and Wright told APN.

Resident leaders and advocates are preparing to file an injunction in the new year against the AHA, based in part on the information discovered by APN.

Also, Councilwoman Moore plans to offer at least one resolution to the Council concerning public housing in January.

Pending in the Council’s CDHR Committee is a resolution by Members Ivory Lee Young and Kwanza Hall to create a task force to study the public housing demolitions.

Young has moved to hold the bill several times now, even though it already passed Committee. Part of the problem now is that Mr. Hall appears to have symbolically backed out of the resolution in his initial plans to offer a different bill as a substitute. Hall’s bill, which passed Committee separately, is to find affordable housing for the seniors who would be evicted in his District.

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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Our syndicaton policy was updated June 2007. For more information on how to syndicate Atlanta Progressive News content, please visit: http://www.atlantaprogressivenews.com/extras/syndicate.html

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