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HUD TELLS BAD LANDLORDS: YOUR LEASE IS UP
Crack Down Bars Four Landlords -- Including One of the Nation's Largest Owners -- From Doing New Business with the Federal Government
WASHINGTON -- Stepping up efforts to crack down on landlords who cheat taxpayers and abuse federal assistance intended for housing low-income Americans safely and decently, HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo moved today to bar three owners and one former manager from doing new business with the Federal Government.
The announcement is part of a nationwide "Get Tough" effort launched by The Department of Housing and Urban Development and The Department of Justice to step-up enforcement action against bad landlords. Earlier this month, HUD debarred 13 landlords, who pocketed $6.7 million in rents intended for mortgage payments.
"Today's actions send a clear signal to landlords that if you're getting rich at taxpayers' expense -- than we're getting tough on you," Cuomo said in describing debarment efforts against the four who received millions in federal housing assistance, but shirked their responsibilities to maintain safe, decent properties.
"HUD is not in the business of subsidizing landlords so they can live in the lap of luxury while their tenants live in slums," Cuomo said. "As of today, YOUR leases are up,"
The three landlords and one manager targeted for debarment ran properties in approximately 25 cities nationwide, housing more than 18,000 people, including children, elderly and working poor. Rampant misuse of funds and flat-out refusal to comply with housing regulations cited at a number of properties, led to HUD's decision to bar the apartment operators from any future dealings with the Department. In most cases, they will also be banned from future contracts with the Federal Government.
Among the landlords targeted for egregious practices is Allan Bird, whose expansive housing portfolio reaches communities in more than 20 cities nationwide. While Bird collects nearly $25 million in federal housing assistance each year for some 104 properties, 43 of those properties -- 41% -- failed either physical or financial inspections. Right now, more than 11,000 people are living in Mr. Bird's "troubled" properties.
Zachary Carter, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York recently obtained a court order ousting one of Bird's companies from Gates Avenue Housing Development, in Brooklyn. Inspections revealed serious security problems, widespread water damage and public areas that were filthy "with evidence of urine and human waste." The project was taken over by HUD just last week.
In underscoring his commitment to the Department's intensified efforts to stop bad landlords in their tracks Cuomo added, "It's time that landlords who feed off of taxpayers and prey on innocent Americans be put on the endangered species list."
Cuomo identified the following individuals and specific cases on which today's debarment decisions were grounded:
Landlord: Allan S. Bird; Carlsbad, California. Bird is involved in 104 project across
the nation. Forty-three properties are on HUD's troubled list.
Cities where Bird owns a property on HUD troubled list: Brooklyn, NY; Mt. Morris and Detroit, MI; Nashville, TN; Marion, Galion, Dayton, Trotwood and Cleveland, OH; Birmingham, AL; Creston, IA; Columbia and Nashville, TN; Fort Myers and Ocala, FL; Chicago and Elgin, IL; Fort Wayne, IN; Americus, Moultrie, and Dublin, GA; West Haven, CT; Parsons and Coffeyville, KS; West Monroe, LA; Baltimore, MD; Salem, SD; Meadville, PA.
Contractor: Mr. Paul Olivier, Haddonfield, New Jersey
Landlord: Douglas S. Wasserman, Cedarhurst, New York
Landlord: Ms. Johnnie Benson, General Manager, Retirement Services Group;
President, Colonial Southwest, Inc.; President, Retirement Village Management, Inc.,
Fort Worth, TX
Content Archived: January 20, 2009