Wednesday, March 09, 2005

HUD’s greed is outweighing its responsibility to ensure affordable housing!

Subject: FYI
Date: 3/9/2005 9:53:43 P.M. Eastern Standard Time
Sent from the Internet (Details)

Contact: Patricia Lewis: (212) 281-1205 “ST. PHILLIP’S ON CONVENT”
Sarah McDermott: (212) 479-3306 TENANTS ASSOCIATION
James Lewis: (212) 799-9638 450 WEST 131 STREET


March 9, 2005

HUD’s greed is outweighing its responsibility to ensure affordable housing!

HUD is blocking St. Phillip’s on Convent’s senior and disabled tenants’ plan for long term affordability and community control in Harlem! Tired of being led on by HUD officials, St. Phillip’s tenants are going public!

NEW YORK- On Monday, March 14, at 10:00 AM, St. Phillip’s tenants will hold a press conference in front of their building at 450 W. 131st Street to hold HUD accountable for their actions. Following the press conference they will send an entourage downtown to the HUD offices at 26 Federal Plaza to demand that HUD take control of the building in order to facilitate a preservation plan rather than sell it at public auction.

St. Philip’s on Convent has been in foreclosure and is scheduled to go to auction on Wednesday, March 16, two days after the press conference. The auction is unrestricted; HUD is thereby encouraging real estate speculators to outbid them, in the process overbidding, leaving them with no option but to milk the building’s subsidized rents. St. Philip’s tenants successfully pressured the building’s owner (St. Philip’s H.D.F.C.) to give the deed back to HUD, in deed-in-lieu of foreclosure, a process that would have cancelled the auction and gotten the building to CATCH, a Harlem mutual housing non-profit organization the tenants have chosen as their partner. However, HUD has rejected the owners’ offer and refuses to accept the deed!

St. Philip’s on Convent is a 104 unit 202/811 HUD insured mortgage Section 8 building for seniors and disabled persons. The building’s primarily African-American and Latino tenants have suffered through years of neglect under the owner and the management company Webb and Brooker. Several of the tenants recently had to temporarily move in with relatives because of lack of heat. The tenants have continued fighting through four auction postponements. HUD has led the tenants to believe that they wanted to assist HPD in obtaining the building, who would then transfer the building to CATCH.

The tenants facilitated this process by persuading the owners to give the deed back to HUD, but shockingly HUD is refusing to accept. We can only conclude that HUD is being greedy by looking to make money off the auction, encouraging speculators, in hopes that a bidding war will ensue, allowing HUD to recoup their investment having assumed the insured mortgage. HUD is putting this greed ahead of the increasingly urgent need to secure affordable housing in Harlem and ahead of tenants’ wishes for a voice in their housing situation.

Patricia Lewis

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