Sarasota Housing Authority Resident's Association

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Housing Authority Monthly Meeting

The next regular meeting of the sarasota Housing Authority will be held on:

Wed, May 31 at 5:00 PM - McCown Towers (Blvd of the Arts, Sarasota).

Notes from last month's meeting (thanks to Jude Levy):

Highlights from Sarasota Housing Authority Meeting held in McCown Towers at 5 pm, Wed, April 26

Present at the table: Ric Gilmore (lawyer), Bill Russell (Director of Sarasota Housing Authority), Carmen Valenti (HUD Receiver), Valerie Buchand (resident representative)

Litter Eradication Policy approved.

Tabled - Admissions and Continued Occupancy Policy for Public Housing. Mr. Russell, Mr. Valenti and Ms. Buchand will meet before the next meeting to accommodate revisions from Ms. Buchand.

Story on Karen Curry, Director of Resident Opportunities & Self Sufficiency, in this week's Tempo.

Public Housing resident hired to help Brian, Janie Poe Property Manager.

Installation of an a/c unit has been renegotiated. The cost is now $25 instead of $50 for residents.

David Cornwell, President/CEO of Cornwell Associates, gave a report on budget prepared for Sarasota HUD. Things have improved fiscally from the year before. $10.8 million in revenues in 2005.

Capital Fund projects planned: Paint Bertha Mitchell & McCown Towers, address site erosion, potholes, handrails where needed, put in new ranges & refrigerators in family units where needed.

Valerie asked for some designation of funds for resident training. There's been an $272,000 increase in Section 8 vouchers.

Mr. Russell explained that though increased subsidies are welcomed, some of the increase will be going to local landlords who have not had an increase in years. Their rents are going up because their taxes and insurance costs have escalated. It is important to keep the landlord base for the important Section 8 program so this is necessary. Valerie reported that she knows of residents who have been looking for months trying to find a landlord who will accept their vouchers.

Bill Russell reported that there were no evictions in March and April. Only one vacancy out of 488 units (with Section 8 building the total is 550). (There are 388 low income family units in Janie Poe, Bertha Mitchell, The Courts and Orange Avenue.) The higher number of 488 includes 100 studios (seniors and disabled) in McCown Towers.

Mr. Russell said Janie Poe residents' rents are at the 95% level of being paid on time.

(As of March 14, in the 388 family units, there were 38 residents earning $20,000 or more a year. 350 households earned less than $20,000 per year. 90% of the heads of households are women.)

Karen Curry reported on last weekend's election for officers in the resident organization representing three developments: Bertha Mitchell, The Courts, & Orange Avenue. A third party was not present so the election was not valid. It has been rescheduled for this coming Saturday from 10 am to 1 pm. Jackie Diaz and Jackie Green are running for president. Karen will be walking around and accepting absentee ballots which she will put in a sealed envelope. Only ten residents came out to vote. The Supervisor of Elections will be present this Saturday.

A social worker will be made available to residents, possibly in the next week or so, reported Bill Russell. The old contract has been settled and a new one negotiated.

Valerie is concerned about Quisha Miller who spoke up at the last Housing Authority meeting. She is concerned about Quisha's safety. Quisha is frightened for herself and her children. The drug dealers who hang around her corner and sometimes around her house have ramped up their threats. They know she has complained to the police. The police told the drug dealers she complained. Because Quisha was relocated from Cohen Way and Carmen Valenti promised those relocated from Cohen Way the first opportunity to receive Section 8s, Valerie urged expediting her voucher. Bill Russell will be meeting with the local police lieutenant this coming week.

Follow up on the spider bite report from a Janie Poe resident at the last Housing Authority meeting: The resident's apartment has been inspected fully and no spiders were found. Her home was fumigated. The resident is recovering.

Concern was expressed that of the 282 public housing units being asked for in the redevelopment plans, 84 of those units are projected for seniors (seniors have efficiencies). That leaves only 198 public housing family units. The Public Housing Task Force has requested that all 388 public housing family rental units (2, 3, 4 bedroom) be returned.

Mr. Valenti said the figures are fluid; that demographics of this region suggest the need for more senior housing. He explained that low income families can access the second tier of tax credit apartments (frankly, this part I do not understand).

When asked how many are on the waiting list for public housing, the response was that each development has its own waiting list. Because Brian, property mgr at Janie Poe, was present he spoke up and said he has 150 on his waiting list. 150 families are waiting for fully occupied Janie Poe homes (128 of them). That's just one development. I am going to guess that there could easily be 600 families and individuals looking for low income housing if all the waiting lists were added together.

The need is huge. There are no alternatives for low income families in Sarasota.

Demolition is still a year away and all construction will not be completed for approximately five years.


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