Extra Extra : Housing

Detroit landlords cash in on rent aid, ignore tax bills

A Detroit News investigation found about 1 in 4 Detroit landlords paid to rent to poor families through the state’s Housing Choice Voucher program collectively owe the city at least $5 million in back taxes and probably much more. Federal and state guidelines for the rental assistance — known as Section 8 — don’t require that all landlords pay.

Read the entire story here.

Residents of 'uninhabitable' Calif. public housing complex to be relocated

Following a report by the Center for Investigative Reporting, the City Council of Richmond, Calif. voted to give residents of the Hacienda public housing complex vouchers to move into private housing. Tim Jones, executive director of the Richmond Housing Authority, called the bulding uninhabitable, and dozens of residents have complained of health problems due to mold.

Jones has blamed deteriorating conditions in public housing on the lack of federal funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The city said it will ask HUD for voucher funding. But if the city can't get the money from ...

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Va. official uses tax dollars to fund vacation

The former police chief of the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority appears to have charged a Las Vegas vacation to his public credit card, according to a report from Virginia TV station ABC 8 News.

The chief was scheduled to attend an annual training event in California, but his return tickets home were booked out of Las Vegas, the station found. The station examined credit card and travel reports, finding that the former chief used taxpayer money to pay for plane tickets for his wife as well as a handful of other, smaller expenses.

Last fall officials suspended the police ...

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After NYT series, officials to transfer hundreds of children out of ‘deplorable’ shelters

City officials are moving more than 400 children and their families out of two city-owned shelters in the wake of a New York Times series about homeless children.

“For nearly three decades, thousands of children passed through Auburn and Catherine Street, living with cockroaches, spoiled food, violence and insufficient heat, even as inspectors warned that the shelters were unfit for children,” the Times wrote today.

“State and city inspectors have cited Auburn for over 400 violations — many of them repeated — for a range of hazards, including vermin, mold, lead exposure, an inoperable fire safety system, insufficient child care and the ...

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Banks making money off charitable donations

Banks are reaping significant financial rewards as they give to charities hundreds of distressed properties in communities still suffering the effects of the foreclosure crisis. But a Chicago Tribune investigation looked at the outcomes for hundreds of donated homes and revealed a pattern of profiteering, mismanagement and failure to help some of the city's hardest-hit communities. This is another installment in the Poverty & Profit series, which probes how a once-stable African-American community has been devastated by corruption and City Hall neglect. 

Extra Extra Monday: More ATF stings botched, fired nurses still find jobs, secretive company forecloses on hundreds

ATF uses rogue tactics in storefront stings across nation | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Earlier this year when the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel exposed a botched ATF sting in Milwaukee — that included agents hiring a brain-damaged man to promote an undercover storefront and then arresting him for his work — ATF officials told Congress the failed Milwaukee operation was an isolated case of inadequate supervision.

5-year food, alcohol bill for CVG board is $102K |  The Cincinnati Enquirer
Fare served included steak, sea bass, top-shelf drinks; events potentially violated open meetings laws.

Fired, they still find jobs as nurses | Minneapolis Star-Tribune
Holes in state ...

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Where is Childhood Homelessness Getting Worse?

The number of homeless students in the United States reached a record high last year, according to new data from the Education Department showing that 1.2 million children had no place to call home.

The troubling new report casts light on a problem that four years into the nation’s economic recovery, has only grown worse, a Frontline report explains. The total number of homeless children enrolled in preschools and K-12 programs rose 10 percent during the 2011-12 school year and 24 percent since the beginning of the 2009-10 academic year, according to the report.

In all, 41 states ...

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Decaying homes left to rot in Columbus

In the city of Columbus, housing-code enforcers reactively chase minor complaints, such as those about weedy lots and litter, rather than proactively writing up landlords for significant problems that could endanger lives, such as plumbing leaking raw sewage, inoperable furnaces and structural rot that could allow parts of houses to collapse. And some judges go easy on problem landlords because they are buddies or they believe they can cajole the bad guys into fixing their properties if they give them a little time, The Columbus Dispatch reported in a four-day series.

Booming rental market makes it easier for neglectful landlords to ignore substandard living conditions

“A wide range of involved parties — City Council members, city Code Compliance officials, tenant advocates and real estate industry groups — agree that Austin’s real estate boom has made it possible for a subset of “bad actors” among rental property owners to ignore substandard conditions and tenants’ complaints. One indicator of the scope of the problem — code complaints and violations at rental properties — has exploded in recent years.”