Just Keep them poor people rolling: City of Alameda tenants fight illegal eviction by Housing Authority/HUD


POOR correspondent - Posted on 23 June 2010

Tiny/PNN
Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Landlord Greedy
Made a deal with the government

"Rent been Paid
Bed been made
Bags never should have been unpacked
Just keep them poor people rolling, rolling, rawhide!"

--An excerpt from the poem "Landlord Greedy" by Po Poet A. Faye Hicks from the book Houzin Project, Words, Art and Resources on Eviction, Displacement and Homelessness by POOR Magazine

"They sent me a letter three weeks ago, sayin that they weren't going to be able to pay my rent….. I have No- where to go", Alice Kennedy, a disabled African-American tenant and Section 8 recipient in Alameda stopped mid-sentence to hold back a flood of tears while she tried to outline her situation at a rally for section 8 tenants in Alameda, called for because of the recent brutal attack on the poorest citizens of AMerikka courtesy of the Bush Administration.

"After they (Alameda Housing Authority) gave me the notice they gave me a list of other places I could move in the state of California. I called all of those cities, all of them told me don't bother coming here cause we don't know what's happening with the program (sec 8)"

On May 14, to 1,659 families and over 600 landlords received notice from The Public Housing Authority of Alameda, California, informing them that there may not be any rent money for the month of June. Tenants and landlords were advised to use their security deposits to pay the rent and to negotiate a way for the renters to repay back the spent security deposits. As well, tenants were given vaguely written "vouchers" that didn't list any guaranteed rental assistance amount along with lists of referrals to other counties that apparently weren't worth the paper they were printed on.

The origin of this assault on poor folks across the nation began on April 22, when The Department of Housing and Urban Development under the leadership of Bush's Clarence Thomas alike Boy Alphonso Jackson announced unexpected—and retroactive—cuts to the Section 8 housing voucher program in 2004. The cuts left housing authorities across the country scrambling to make up serious funding shortfalls and forced them to take actions like the ones impacting Ms. Kennedy and thousands of other Sec 8 tenants locally and nationally.

On May 20, HUD announced it was fixing the problem by providing $150 million to housing authorities and making slight changes to how it determines housing authorities’ funding. Unfortunately, this "fix," while badly needed, provided less than half of the funding needed to solve this crisis.

"I pray every night that things will be ok,cause I have a six year old, my neighbor has a seven year old, my cousin has a 15 year old and we are all working , and since we got this notice three weeks ago we are essentially living here homeless," Martina Knox , a young soft spoken woman spoke quietly about her impossible situation, "I have wrote Alphonso Jackson and Barbara Boxer so many letters and they have done nothing.."

To hear Ms. Knox explain the situation of all of these working poor mothers who are left with nowhere to go, I reflected on my own impending homelessness as a section 8 recipient in San Francisco . Was the Bush administration trying to incite class war - where will we all go? Maybe the White House has some extra room. And how is this legally possible?.I was told at my Sec 8 orientation meeting that as long as I followed the "rules" of section 8, that I had just received a life-time rental assistance voucher ". Isn't that illegal termination of a contract?

As many as half of the nation’s housing authorities are facing these imminent cuts, primarily in communities where rents or incomes have changed significantly since August of 2003. All communities are affected, though, to the extent that the cuts increase the number of people who can’t afford housing, generally undermine the voucher program, and set the stage for future cuts.

And of course these drastic cuts are really just the preview of the larger plan to cause wide-spread homelessness by the Bush Administration. They already have a budget plan to cut funding for 250,000 existing vouchers in Fiscal Year 2005. And I wonder did HUD have mass homelessness in mind when they demolished most Housing Projects in the 90's and gave people a useless section 8 voucher in exchange

"I don't know what I am going to do," The sorrow -filled words of Charlie Jammer , a blind African-American man who transferred from another county so he could move to a safer location in Alameda has been told that because he only recently transferred to Alameda Section 8 he is losing his section 8 because he doesn't have "section8 seniority" which of course is just more lies as he has been on section 8 since 1995 in other counties.

" This is the richest country in the history of the world and people who are poor should not be discriminated against and deserve housing " As the horror of this situation was beginning to terrify me beyond belief , I was awakened by the determined voice of Rob Rook, who along with other tenant activists from the Campaign for Renters Rights were preparing for an action they were going to have later that day, " We are planning to take 30 to 40 tenants up to the city council and the mayor and let them know that we are not leaving, and if they proceed with these evictions, we will be setting up a tent city at City Hall."

"People need to be aware that they have rights , that they shouldn't be intimidated by landlords and their attorneys and that they have the right to stay in their apartments and pay their portion of the rent " Fierce and dedicated tenant organizer Lynda Carson was explaining the legal recourse of tenants , who were given these illegal notices, " you see as section 8 recipients, we have a three way contract between the tenant, the landlord and the Housing Authority, the contractual requirements of the tenants is to pay their portion ." she went on to explain that tenants should in fact stay in their units and force the landlords to take up legal action for the missing rent from the people not paying ; The Housing Authority.

PoorNewsNetwork /PNNis calling for a civil rights attorneys to contact us if you are interested in launching a Class action suit against the Housing Authority for illegally breaking the Section 8 contract with tenants . As well it is VERY URGENT that Congress hears the people. PLEASE Call Congress at 1-888-818-6641 and urge Members to protect housing vouchers. For more information on this situation go to www.nlihc.org or www. rollbacktherents.org. For more journalism on issues of poverty and racism or to get a copy of Houzin Project go to www.poormagazine.org or call (415) 863-6306

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