Jack over on Left in Lowell likes to say “Poverty is a Big Business” and he is correct. LHA, CTI and various other groups that dictate the Section 8 locations have some strong power in deciding who gets money for their property.
Recently I received an email asking me ” Why doesn’t the City Inspect these Section 8 units and collect Inspection fees?” and “Would the New Rental ordinance that was recently passed effect these properties?”
There has been some murmurs in the under currents in the city regarding the Section 8 vouchers and the high rental cost CTI/LHA is paying and what the homeowner is charging and the growing cost. The Sun tried to get a list of owners but was refused.
I figured the emailer knew something or wanted to put a spotlight on this issue for some reason. I had to admit I didn’t have an answer or know to much about the new ordinance, but promised to look into it.
I asked a few questions and found out the following.
The Rental Unit Ordinance specifically states (in section 176-2.D.) that inspections are not required for rental units where an annual inspection is conducted in conjunction with funding or vouchers from HUD, as long as Development Services is provided with a copy of the HUD inspection report, and that HUD inspection occurred within 12 months of the permit application.
The City is working with LHA and CTI to make sure that either they or the individual landlords can provide those inspection reports to to the city , so that the City has a copy on file.
With respect to the policy regarding the rental inspections, the permits are good for three years, and are not triggered by a vacancy in the unit. Therefore, they will be renewed on a rolling basis as they expire (units issued permits in February of 2013 will come up for renewal in February of 2016).
The reason for this exemption is that the properties which have Section 8 certificates through CTI or LHA or otherwise have HUD involvement that triggers a regular inspection are exempt from the City inspection if they provide evidence of their successful inspection under HUD’s housing quality standards is that the HUD exemption is more rigorous and complete than what the City can do under the Sanitary Code, so there is no reason for duplicative inspections.
The City ordinance is designed to compel inspection of the rental units in the City that do not otherwise receive inspection. Although there is a perception in some areas of the City that problem properties are “section 8” properties, in fact actual section 8 properties tend to be code compliant and in better condition that non-section 8 precisely because of the annual HUD inspection. This observation was supported by the results of vacancy inspections conducted under the old ordinance, which did not exempt these HUD units
So I hope that addresses any concerns that exist and answers the question the emailer asked. There is a push by the SUN to go after the Sect 8 records and see which property owners are getting more than others and I hope they are successful.
Poverty is a BIG Business and I believe some property owners get treated better than others.
One has to wonder if the little pushback against the newest LHA appointment because of her CTI connection last night was a prelude to more motions and questions about the Inspection Issue involving CTI/LHA.
One question I have is if the reports of inspections mentioned above get filed with the City, do they then become a matter Public Record and thus available to the SUN?