HUD AND JUSTICE DEPARTMENT LAUNCH
WASHINGTON -- Housing Secretary Andrew Cuomo and Attorney
General Janet Reno today launched "Get Tough," a partnership to
crack down on landlords in 50 cities who abuse federal housing
programs to enrich themselves while failing to provide safe and
decent housing for the poor.
"GET TOUGH" PARTNERSHIP
BAD LANDLORDS WHO ABUSE
FEDERAL HOUSING ASSISTANCE IN 50 CITIES
Cuomo and Reno said the Department of Housing and Urban
Development and the Department of Justice will focus their joint
efforts to file civil and criminal charges where warranted
against bad landlords in the 50 communities with the largest
concentrations of HUD-assisted housing.
"HUD is not in the businesses of subsidizing rich landlords
so they can live in luxury while they let their tenants live in
slums," Cuomo said. "Landlords who get assistance from HUD have a
legal obligation to provide safe, decent and affordable housing
to some of the poorest and most vulnerable Americans. If they
refuse, we will take severe action against them."
Reno said that U.S. Attorneys across the country are ready
to pursue cases against bad landlords that HUD refers for
"Landlords who receive federal funds must realize that if
they don't play by the rules they will lose out in the end," Reno
said. "We have successfully pursued unscrupulous landlords in the
past and will work closely with HUD to continue our pursuit."
Reno said the "Get Tough" initiative will allow HUD and the
Department of Justice to build on the success they have achieved
by working together to settle 58 cases resulting in more than
$33.5 million in settlements against bad landlords since 1994.
The HUD-Justice Department crackdown on bad landlords was
endorsed today by the National Alliance of HUD Tenants and the
National Affordable Housing Management Association.
"We support the efforts of the Clinton Administration to
have stricter enforcement," said John Bohm, Executive Director of
the National Affordable Housing Management Association. "We have
been in the forefront calling for tough enforcement policies."
About 1 million low- and moderate-income people -- many of
them elderly and disabled -- live in about 446,000 HUD-assisted
apartment units owned by private landlords in the 50 targeted
cities. Nationwide, about 3.2 million people live in about 1.4
million privately owned HUD-assisted apartment units.
"We know that most landlords of HUD-assisted housing are
responsible and provide affordable housing as required under
law," Cuomo said. "Our job is to identify and stop the minority
who are abusing the program."
Cuomo highlighted enforcement actions against abusive
landlords in: Kansas City, MO (Valley View, Hillcrest Manor and
Good Shepherd Manor apartments); Chicago (Ellis Lakeview and
Stone Terrace apartments); the New Orleans area (Hillcrest Homes
in LaFource Parish); Dallas (Crest A, Coston Arms and Prince Hall
apartments); New York City (Mott Haven VI apartments in the
Bronx) and Indianapolis (Blacherne, Savoy and Hoosier
Bad landlords often pocket money that should be used for
their mortgage payments and to keep their apartments properly
maintained. This practice -- called equity skimming -- causes
properties to deteriorate, and vacancies and crime to increase.
It often leads landlords to default on their mortgages.
Since the mortgages of the HUD-assisted housing are insured
by HUD, the Department gets stuck with the bill for the unpaid
mortgages and for building repairs when the landlord defaults. If
no enforcement action is taken, the bad landlord can walk away
with big profits, abandoning responsibility for the project.
Enforcement actions that HUD and the Department of Justice
will pursue against bad landlords include: prison sentences,
civil fraud judgments, mortgage foreclosures, bans on doing
business with the federal government, return of misused housing
assistance funds to HUD, substantial fines, and appointment of
new apartment managers.
Cuomo also announced that HUD will propose legislation to
strengthen the Department's enforcement authority against bad
The proposed legislation would: prevent landlords from using
bankruptcy laws to delay or avoid foreclosure and other
enforcement actions; make people convicted of equity skimming
liable for all losses suffered by HUD as a result of the crime;
make criminal equity skimming a money laundering offense; and
impose criminal penalties on anyone who obstructs a Federal audit
dealing with HUD funding.
The HUD-assisted units are subsidized as part of the
project-based Section 8 program, which was created 23 years ago
to increase the supply of safe and well-maintained apartments for
people who can't afford to rent apartments at market rates.
HUD will inspect all project-based Section 8 developments
over the next 12 months to determine whether enforcement action
should be considered, focusing most heavily on the 50 cities,
The 50 communities targeted for an intensified crackdown against bad
landlords under the "Get Tough" campaign, in alphabetical order by state, are:
AL - Birmingham, Mobile. AZ - Phoenix, Tucson. CA - Los Angeles, Sacramento,
San Francisco, San Jose. FL - Jacksonville, Miami, Tampa. IL - Chicago. CO -
Denver. DC - Washington. GA - Atlanta. IN - Indianapolis. KY - Lexington,
Louisville. LA - New Orleans. MA - Boston. MD - Baltimore. MS - Jackson. MI -
Detroit. MO - Kansas City, City of St. Louis, St. Louis County. NC -
Charlotte. NE - Omaha. NJ - Newark. NV - Las Vegas. NY - New York City. OH -
Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo. OR - Portland. PA -
Philadelphia, Pittsburgh. PR - San Juan. RI - Providence. TN - Knoxville,
Memphis, Nashville. TX - Dallas, Houston, San Antonio. WA - Seattle, Spokane.
Content Archived: January 20, 2009