BREAKING: Resident Board Opposes Demolitions

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(APN) ATLANTA — The Resident Advisory Board representing Atlanta public housing tenants citywide voted today unanimously to oppose the mass evictions and demolitions proposed by Atlanta Housing Authority.

The resolution will be sent to US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Special Applications Center so they are aware of residents’ opposition to the plan, and of AHA’s lack of consultation with residents even though consultation is required by HUD.

Atlanta Progressive News discovered a few weeks ago that AHA fabricated meeting minutes of the RAB Board from a February 14, 2007, meeting, where AHA represented to HUD that these minutes showed consultation by AHA with the residents.

In order to prevent any such misrepresentations again, the RAB Board formally resolved their opposition to the demolitions.

The RAB Board also passed two resolutions supporting recent bills presented by Members of City Council.

One RAB Board resolution supports the recent bills introduced by Councilwoman Felicia Moore. One bill, requiring the City Council to first approve any demolitions before Mayor Shirley Franklin signs off on them, has gained 6 co-sponsors, Moore told Atlanta Progressive News.

The co-sponsors are Natalyn Archibong, C. T. Martin, Ceasar Mitchell, Mary Norwood, Joyce Sheperd, and Ivory Lee Young. The bill and others will be considered in CDHR Committee meeting next Tuesday, January 15, 2008, beginning at 12:30pm.

Another RAB Board resolution supports a bill introduced previously by Council Members Ivory Lee Young and Kwanza Hall to create a Housing Relocation Task Force to study the effects of the demolitions on residents, with the stipulation that AHA not appoint members to the Task Force.

The full text of the RAB Board resolution opposing the demolitions is below:

The Jurisdiction-Wide Resident Advisory Board Of the City of Atlanta Hereby RESOLVES:

The resident leaders of public housing are OPPOSED to the demolition of our communities.

WHEREAS we disagree that the buildings are obsolete and have not yet had an independent assessment of this.

WHEREAS we believe that even though some residents are ready to go, the property still would be viable for people that are homeless.

WHEREAS we have a concern about seniors and persons with disabilities that are ill and have no families and who’s going to make sure they’re going to be taken care of and not put in a nursing home without them having any input.

WHEREAS we are concerned seniors and persons with disabilities won’t be able to move somewhere where they can get transportation to their medical appointments and to get their prescriptions.

WHEREAS we haven’t had the proper consultation with AHA, nor have we had any input in the decision-making, as required by HUD.

WHEREAS the resident association meetings at the senior highrises have been interrupted by AHA, whereas they can’t have visitors in their meetings because they don’t want the seniors to learn what is going on or have input.

WHEREAS AHA falsified sign-in sheets, minutes, and the agenda for the February 14, 2007, RAB Board Meeting in demolition applications they sent in to HUD.

WHEREAS we haven’t been offered the opportunity to purchase the properties ourselves, as required by HUD.

WHEREAS AHA did not hold public hearings before sending the application in.

WHEREAS AHA refused to show us the applications before and after sending them in.

WHEREAS AHA asked the Court reporter not to release transcripts of recent meetings called by AHA in the communities.

WHEREAS we’re concerned about residents being pre-moved without AHA having approval of a HUD application. Also, we’re concerned relocation teams are already meeting with residents in some communities where no applications are submitted.

WHEREAS we have a concern of residents moving into homes and two or three months later, they’re foreclosed on.

WHEREAS they have a high rate of evictions since the Quality of Life initiative has been put into place because they’re refusing to issue vouchers to residents with criminal backgrounds up to 30 years in the past.

WHEREAS we’re not sure of the extent of the vouchers, if there’s any money on the vouchers, because Congress does not guarantee funding and must decide every year whether to fund the vouchers. Therefore, we are concerned voucher-holders will have to pay market-rate rent if the vouchers run out.

WHEREAS we’ve been told conflicting information about the vouchers.

WHEREAS there is no listing of landlords that’s going to take vouchers. We don’t even have an understanding of where are we supposed to be moving.

WHEREAS we’re concerned about options for families with more than three or four children.

WHEREAS we’re also concerned about the decrease in unit sizes.

WHEREAS we’re also concerned about the utility allotments because AHA has terminated vouchers for families who don’t pay their utility bills and has not provided all families with sufficient utility allotments.

WHEREAS we’re concerned about how residents on vouchers will pay their security deposit, first month’s rent, and/or last month’s rent where applicable.

WHEREAS much of the crime reported in Bowen Homes is coming from outside of the community.

WHEREAS we’re concerned the lack of transportation from outskirts to Atlanta where they have their jobs, to be noncompliant with work requirements.

WHEREAS AHA has been terminating vouchers for loss of income after 16 days, or for people who can’t pay rent from their own income even if receiving outside help.

RESOLVED, this 10th day of January, 2008. [sic: actually January 09]

About the author:

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

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