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HUD HEADQUARTERS RELOCATES TO LAS VEGAS FOR A DAY AS CUOMO ANNOUNCES ASSISTANCE FOR AREALAS VEGAS -- Secretary Andrew Cuomo and top aides relocated U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development headquarters to Las Vegas for a day today to learn first-hand how to help revitalize the city and Southern Nevada and to announce new assistance to the area.
Cuomo joined Senators Richard Bryan and Harry Reid, Mayor Jan Laverty Jones and other local officials from Las Vegas, Clark County, North Las Vegas and Henderson at events he said were designed "to strengthen HUD's successful partnership with citizens and elected officials in Las Vegas and the rest of Nevada."
Cuomo announced that HUD will help the area with a series of new actions to:
"As the fastest growing state in the nation, Nevada has a tremendous need for safe, affordable housing for our seniors, the disabled and those living on fixed incomes," Sen. Reid said. "Thanks to the efforts of Secretary Cuomo, we are making great strides in meeting those needs, and I look forward to working hand in hand with HUD to ensure that Nevada remains a great place to live."
"Housing is one of the most important issues facing Clark County," Senator Bryan said. "Safe, adequate housing should be available to all Nevadans. The physically handicapped face hurdles every day and this grant will ensure that more physically handicapped Nevadans will have the resources they need. I am pleased to have worked with HUD to ensure that these funds were made available."
"I am very pleased with Secretary Cuomo's decision to convene HUD For A Day in Las Vegas," Mayor Jones said. "The opportunity for HUD officials to become familiar with all parts of the Valley will be of great benefit to our residents."
"We welcome the visit of Secretary Cuomo and top staff to the Las Vegas Valley," said County Commission Chair Yvonne Atkinson Gates. "This is a real opportunity to expand our positive partnership with the federal government in addressing common community concerns."
The visit to Las Vegas is the fourth in a series of such trips Cuomo and the top leadership of HUD are making to communities around the country.
HUD officials traveling to Las Vegas with Cuomo included: Assistant Secretary for Housing/Federal Housing Commissioner Nicolas Retsinas; Acting Assistant Secretary for Public and Indian Housing Kevin Marchman; Acting Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development Jacquie Lawing; Acting Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity Susan Forward; and Counselor Robert Hickmott.
The HUD officials traveling with Cuomo planned to participate in roundtable discussions and to split up during the day to visit housing, businesses, and other locations in the Las Vegas area with their local counterparts.
Here are details of the HUD assistance announced by Cuomo in Las Vegas:
HOUSING FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIESCuomo awarded $2 million in HUD assistance to a non-profit group under a program that provides HUD-subsidized housing for adults with disabilities who have very low incomes. Accessible Space, Inc., will build 24 apartments for people with disabilities in Las Vegas.
The project will be modeled on the Carol Haynes Apartments, a HUD-funded facility for people who have disabilities caused by brain injuries, which was built by the same non-profit group and received $3.5 million from HUD 1992.
` About $1.7 million in HUD assistance to the new project will be in the form of capital advances, which cover the cost of developing the housing. The advances do not need to repaid as long as the housing is available for occupancy by very low-income people with disabilities for at least 40 years.
Another $329,500 in HUD funds will be used to subsidize rents of residents of the new facility for five years. The HUD assistance allows residents to pay 30 percent of their income for rent, with HUD paying the balance needed to fund the cost of operating the project.
"America will not turn its back on people with disabilities struggling to get by on very low incomes," Cuomo said. "Without HUD assistance, many of these Americans simply could not make it. They would be forced to live in slums, or doubled and tripled up with relatives in overcrowded housing, or sent to institutions at greater taxpayer expense, or even forced into homelessness."
ROBERT GORDON PLAZA SENIOR CITIZEN HOUSINGCuomo said HUD will prevent the planned sale of the 300-unit Robert Gordon Plaza apartments, a senior citizen complex operated by the Las Vegas Housing Authority. The authority had planned to sell the complex to help pay off a $7.2 million debt it owed HUD. HUD will allow the housing authority to repay the $3.9 million balance that it will still owe the Department after more properties are sold on a slower schedule.
Instead of paying off the funds in five years, HUD will give the housing authority 16 years to pay off the loan, enabling it to make the repayment without selling Robert Gordon Plaza.
CEDAR GARDENS AND HERBERT GERSON PUBLIC HOUSINGCuomo said HUD will enable the Las Vegas Housing Authority to move forward with plans to sell the Cedar Gardens and Herbert Gerson public housing developments and replace them with new affordable housing.
To ensure that the replacement will not reduce the supply of affordable housing, HUD will provide about 70 new vouchers under the Section 8 program to help pay the rent of very low-income Las Vegas residents in privately owned apartments.
Plans call for Cedar Gardens to be replaced by 40 affordable apartments, and for Gerson to be replaced by 388 affordable houses to be purchased for homeownership and by 15 affordable rental units. Both public housing developments are now in poor condition and largely vacant.
SHELTER FOR VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCEHUD will provide a homeless assistance award of $299,250 to the Women's Development Center to provide transitional housing for families suffering from domestic violence. Women and their children will be housed in furnished apartments and get help including job training, counseling, financial planning, and support groups.
HUD has provided funding for the center in previous years. The new funds will allow the center to continue operations and expand.
HOUSING DISCRIMINATIONCuomo announced the settlement of a housing discrimination complaint filed by a Las Vegas man who is disabled and uses a wheelchair. Ronald Ray Smith accused Rock Springs Vista Development Company earlier this year of failing to meet home accessibility requirements of the Fair Housing Act at a 180-unit condominium complex that the company is building.
Under the settlement, the company agreed to: ensure that the 30 units still under construction are fully accessible to people with disabilities; retrofit units free of charge for six months for current owners to make them accessible to people with disabilities; establish a $25,000 escrow account to pay for future retrofitting; make a $15,000 donation to the Disability Rights Action Committee; and pay attorney fees. The company cooperated in the investigation.
"Housing discrimination is an ugly part of America's past that has no place in our nation's present or future," Cuomo said.
COMPUTER CENTERSCuomo said HUD will work with apartment owners and non-profit groups to help them set up more computer centers, called Neighborhood Networks, at HUD-assisted housing in the Las Vegas area.
HUD has helped start Neighborhood Networks around the nation, to provide computer training and access to children and adults who can't afford to buy their own computers. The centers help children succeed in school and help adults acquire the computer skills they need to get good jobs in today's high-tech economy. Retsinas was meeting with owners of HUD-assisted housing today to explain the program.
CRACKDOWN ON MORTGAGE FRAUD AND ABUSECuomo said HUD will locate a quality assurance monitor in Las Vegas for the first time to review the performance of lenders. The monitor will conduct on-site reviews of lender origination and servicing practices, to protect consumers from fraud and abuse.
Las Vegas is one of the fastest-growing housing markets in the country, and suffers from a high incidence of mortgage fraud and abuse.
OFFICER NEXT DOORHUD will work to make more homes available in the Las Vegas area and help police participate in the Officer Next Door initiative, which gives police 50 percent discounts on HUD-owned homes. The program is designed to revitalize economically distressed communities and cut crime by helping police become homeowners in such neighborhoods.
Officers will get a 50 percent discount when they buy homes foreclosed by the Federal Housing Administration, which is part of HUD. This will save each officer tens of thousands of dollars. Officers have to live in the home for at least three years.
Qualifying officers receiving a HUD-insured mortgage can buy homes with a downpayment of only $100. Some officers can also receive home improvement loans guaranteed by HUD. Retsinas was meeting with police officers from metropolitan Las Vegas to discuss the program.
Content Archived: January 20, 2009