EXCLUSIVE: AHA Is 1,300 Voucher Units Short, Realtor Board Says
(APN) ATLANTA — An Atlanta realtor coordinating the effort to find replacement housing for some 2,000 families in public housing communities about to be evicted by Atlanta Housing Authority sent a message to realtors stating AHA only has 700 voucher-leasing units identified for some 2,000 families.
An Atlanta Progressive News undercover operative contacted the realtor, Vivian Lyons, to confirm the authenticity of the message and learn additional information. The operative told Lyons she had friends who had properties to lease.
The revelations raise the probability that AHA has defrauded the US Department of Housing and Urban Development when they stated there was more than sufficient leasing opportunities in Atlanta and that each family would get three units to choose from.
“I am working with the Empire Board of Realtors and through them we are working with the Atlanta Housing Authorities. We currently are trying to place about 2,000 tenants into houses if at all possible,” Vivian Lyons wrote May 8, 2008, in the Google Group, “The Good Broker, LLC.”
“The tenants are coming through the Atlanta Housing Authority and the rental payments will be paid through the Atlanta Housing Authority. This program works somewhat like Section 8 but the AHA will come out and do the inspection if home passes inspection on first round a check for the first month’s rent is given at the end of the inspection… AHA will pay the moving expense and some other incentives,” Lyons wrote.
“So if any of you have any rental homes in the Atlanta area may I please list them on the site that we have available to us, you must be a Empire Board Member to do this and the training period for this first round has been closed but we are in need of 2,000 homes and we only have 700 as of 5-7-2008,” Lyons wrote.
Today, Lyons confirmed to Atlanta Progressive News that AHA is 1,300 units short.
“Yes, 1300. The floodgates will open on the first on June for us to start putting residents in properties,” Lyons said.
“We have 2,000 residents to place,” Lyons said.
When Lyons and her team of realtors identify a voucher-leasing opportunity, “We list it on the website for the AHA people.”
Lyons said she was looking “As far Mableton and Ausdale, Douglas, Cobb, and Fulton and Dekalb. And there will be a few in Conyers and Covington. If I get enough in Carroll County area we’ll have the floodgate open up to that to.”
Councilwoman Felicia Moore, who is not satisfied with AHA’s plan, was not surprised. “We already knew that,” Moore said when told about the email and phone call with Ms. Lyons.
AHA promised to HUD in demolition applications submitted in February and March 2008, in their relocation plans, that they would offer each family three different units to choose from.
It is unclear how each family will have three units to choose from, when actually, there are fewer units than families to be displaced.
“They won’t have the choice of one unit,” Councilwoman Moore remarked. AHA’s program is ironically called Housing Choice.
APN previously reported there is no evidence of available voucher housing for the families facing eviction.
HUD asks a Housing Authority in the relocation plans to “describe, generally, the availability of rental housing to voucher holders in the metropolitan area over the planned period of relocation. What is the vacancy rate? Is there a shortage of such housing?”
In AHA’s answer they mislead HUD when they write, “Atlanta has experienced a soft rental market for the past several years. According to REIS Rental Market Data, there were approximately 3,564 property vacancies in the Atlanta/Fulton submarket, and over 28,767 vacancies in the metro Atlanta area as of mid-year 2007,” (Relocation Plan, page 10).
However, this data gives property vacancies, not, as HUD inquires, “availability of rental housing to voucher holders.” A listing of vacant properties does not even mean that those units are affordable, and therefore able to be covered under the limits on the vouchers established by AHA under the voucher program.
In a meeting AHA held with resident leaders in December 2007, City Councilwoman Felicia Moore requested copies of “studies” that AHA alleged having from their developer partners showing that there are available housing opportunities.
“Your comment was the developers have insured [sic] you that there are enough units within the city of Atlanta. Well, I’d like to see that documentation from developers. You said you’ve done these studies. I’d like to see those studies,” Councilwoman Moore said on December 18, 2007.
“All right. Well, we’ll work with you on that and I’m sure you can get some closure,” AHA Director Renee Glover said.
AHA never did provide evidence of available voucher housing and now it apparent why: because, according to the Empire Board of Realtors, the units do not exist.
Numerous families were living in hotels who had been evicted by AHA from five communities in 2007, according to numerous residents and resident leaders. APN has not yet confirmed how many families are still in hotels, but AHA admitted in at the December 18, 2007, meeting, they were using hotels.
Residents are asking HUD not to approve the 7 demolition applications currently under review, based on the fact they don’t have anywhere to go and that AHA appears to have de-frauded HUD regarding this issue.
The Empire Board of Realtors approached AHA to help find landlords, Lyons told APN.
The Empire Board of Realtors was originally formed in 1939 to fight discrimination against Blacks in housing in Atlanta.
About the author:
Matthew Cardinale is the News Editor for The Atlanta Progressive News and may be reached at email@example.com
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