Left In Lowell

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December 18, 2007

Halt Unfair Eviction of CBA Tenants!

by at 12:37 pm.

Something really amiss is going on over at the Coalition for a Better Acre, this time, in regards to recent eviction notices delivered to some tenants that have seem to suggest some are in arrears going back to 2004, whereas many of those tenants have had no previous notice of such. CBA Members for Justice is hosting a rally today at 5pm to ask for a halt to the eviction process until the issue of fairness can be resolved. The press release from CBAMJ has more:

Outraged Lowell residents and CBA Members for Justice will rally on December 18 against threatened evictions of at least 80 low-income households from properties developed or owned by the Coalition for a Better Acre (CBA). The rally will start at 5:00 and take place outside the meeting of the North Canal Housing Trust, 517 Moody Street in Lowell.

“Dozens of North Canal tenants have been coming through my office day after day with these warning letters” explains Paulette Turner, Consultant to the North Canal Tenant Council and former staff of CBA’s property management company Maloney Properties. “In some cases this is the first notice they’re receiving of money they’ve supposedly owed since 2004. Then they get sent to court to sign an agreement they might not understand and can’t afford, and once they break that agreement, they’re out on the street.”

This flood of warning notices extends beyond the CBA-developed North Canal complex, to other CBA properties on Merrimack Street and the Acre Triangle. In some cases the notices are just wrong, like one demanding $1350 from a North Canal resident - when the woman sat down with Turner to review her records, it turned out that she was actually owed a $40 credit instead. In other cases, the debt may exist, but tenants have received no prior warnings, counseling, or education about options for addressing the problem and staying in their homes.

In response to the crisis, the North Canal Tenant Council has hosted two educational meetings where tenants raised other issues. For example, constables were taping notices to the outside of people’s doors, where they are accessible to passersby. They talked about suddenly receiving first-time notification for money they have supposedly owed for years, which then turns out to be an error. Maria Claudio, a long-time North Canal resident, says “This whole process is illegal and not in compliance with HUD regulations. I have been personally affected by the situation.”

“It’s distressing that CBA, an organization that formed to fight for justice and housing for the poor of Lowell, is now acting as a landlord that will evict people with no due process,” adds Darcie Boyer, Acre resident and former CBA organizer. “We’re seeing CBA’s dramatic change from social justice organization to one led by the interests of bankers and developers.”

The rally will demand an immediate halt to the eviction process. “CBA needs to require its property manager to sit down with the tenants and design a new process that is fair and clear to all,” adds Turner. The North Canal Housing Trust, a joint body of the North Canal Tenants Council and the CBA Board of Directors, sets policy for North Canal Apartments.

22 Responses to “Halt Unfair Eviction of CBA Tenants!”

  1. Turtledove Says:

    This is a truly horrifying situation…although I have tried to follow the goings-on of the CBA in the past few years, there doesn’t seem to be a clear source-of-truth for details about their reorganization.

    You mention, ““We’re seeing CBA’s dramatic change from social justice organization to one led by the interests of bankers and developers.””

    Would you recommend any specific source for more information about this?

  2. Lynne Says:

    If you’ll note, the blockquoted text is a press release from CBAMJ. However, I should get the CBAMJ to speak on their own behalf - they’ve been working on this ever since the firings came down, and that community is quite large. There are a lot of personal experiences that go into that view, and I’d rather have them enumerate them than to speak for them. I’ll see about getting them the opportunity to write up their experiences.

    I do note the lack of media coverage in either direction other than here…which is disturbing in and of itself. To be honest, there’s a lot of story here.

    If you like, you can go back and read my original post on this subject back in July. Then I wrote this followup, and this report.

  3. joe Says:

    Oh, man, the Chavez people are going to have a field day with this.

    I, for one, think it’s good that the CBA is getting its act together. Except they don’t seem to actually be getting their act together.

  4. Just Me Says:

    People not paying their rent and getting evicted OMG. The injustice of it. Some hadn’t paid since 2004, if that is true they should get evicted. There are enough programs that they could get on to help them. I drive by North Canal everyday and there are nicer cars in there than I am driving. If it truly is a mistake then they should have nothing to worry about.

  5. Lynne Says:

    Just me, did you actually read the release? Specifically, it said that people had EVICTION notices after receiving NO notice they owed anything. Also, on further inspection, those records are wrong. Unfortunately, unless the EVICTIONS are halted, there’s no time to sort anything out and people will be evicted regardless.

    I don’t know about you, but when someone doesn’t give you notice that you owe money or time to pay it, but summarily evicts you, I call that a bit unfair.

    No one is asking for there never to be an eviction…just for a fair process that allows people to react before kicking them out. I’d expect no less from my (market-rate) rentals over the years.

    Joe: That’s unfair, and entirely incorrect. Gee, I guess if fighting for fairness is “Chavez” like, well…count me a Chavez person.

  6. sd Says:

    i don’t get how you can say this is an ‘eviction’ notice. the only use of the term ‘eviction’ is on the press release from this group. it appears from the actual wording of the press release (read it really carefully) that these are warning notices for people with alleged unpaid rents.

    i would hope that if they are a mistake cba would correct the mistake and move on. but i don’t think its fair to blame the new cba leadership if they are catching up on sloppy mistakes of the old cba leadership and ensuring that the bills are paid so that they can continue to spend their money on meeting their goals.

    i guess when you say you are asking for “a fair process that allows people to react before kicking them out”, i wonder what in the press release above suggests that there is not going to be a fair process?

  7. Josh Says:

    I have a feeling these people did get notice that they owe rent… It’s called “the first of the month.” Who says they deserve warnings, counseling, or education? They’re adults here. Time to put on the big boy pants and act like grownups. That means taking responsibility.

    Yes, I realize that a couple of these people should not be evicted for whatever reason, but that’s something for them to work out with their landlord - not hold a protest.

    Also, you’re not thinking about the consequences here. Do you know how hard it is to evict someone in this state? I know people that have lost THOUSANDS of dollars in nonpayment because the law is so stacked against them. It’s one of the reasons that there is a lack of affordable housing in Massachusetts - the cost of being a landlord is much higher, so they need to charge higher rents to make a decent return on their investment.

    I don’t know how many times I have to say this… the government cannot just decree new laws and nullify the laws of economics.

    Lynne: That you would take the accusation of being a Chavista is of no surprise to me…

  8. Just Me Says:

    So someone needs to tell them that they need to pay their rent?? Seriously, that is crazy. You rent a place you know that you need to pay rent.

    The fair process is that they pay their rent. That is what is fair to the property owner. And as a former landlord they can’t be evicted that easy. A 14 day notice has to be issued. They have to go to housing court, CBA will have to get attorney involved, etc.

    If the notices are wrong they should have evidence of paying their rent, cancelled checks whatever. In that case they can’t be evicted.

  9. j.wright Says:

    Let’s remember, CBA is a not for profit company. Their interests are to help people. When rent isn’t paid it hurts CBA’s ability to provide additional affordable housing. It seems that Lowell has a class of people that look at housing as a right, not a privilege. The sense of entitlement is amazing. CBA provides good housing at an affordable price. They run their operation as they should– a business. Without rules and rigorous enforcement, this type of housing would not be available. BTW, I did read the article and it does not add up. Yes, there might be an accounting mistake or two but individuals know when they do not pay their entire rent. How could it come as a surprise to them? CBA does not magically take the rent from them each month. The tenant pays the rent (at least part of it depending on the level of assistance.) I realize this is ‘left in Lowell’ but it isn’t ‘communism in Lowell’. Even lefties recognize the need for individuals to live up to their responsibilities.

  10. tim Says:

    Is there a link to additional info somewhere that I’m missing? If not, there’s a whole lot of suppositions going on here. If so…well, someone help me out here.

    It seems some people are more worried that someone may not get evicted soon enough than someone getting wrongly evicted.

  11. hugo Says:

    wow, you guys are brutal.

    part of the problem is that the new CBA is very secretive. closed board meetings, hired security guards to keep people out, calling the police to escort us out. we don’t know what they’re doing up there.

    all we know is what the tenants have told us. apparently someone told the tenants to withhold their rent. we don’t know what’s going on because CBA won’t tell us.

    it sounds like some of you would like to have no poor people in Lowell at all, maybe just white people, maybe everyone should be forced to speak English, build a wall, keep ‘em all out.

    i was at the rally, 25 of us shouting at a brick building for an hour in 25 degree weather, it was really fun.

    i was there because I don’t want my neighbors thrown out on the street in the middle of the winter.

    sorry about the rant, but sometimes americans piss me off

  12. joe Says:

    Lynne,

    Fighting for what’s fair doesn’t exclude one from being a Chavez person, either. Grown-ups recognize that agreeing with you on an issue doesn’t make people above reproach across the spectrum.

    You know what makes one a Chavez person? How about HANGING A POSTER OF HUGO CHAVEZ ON YOUR WALL, which at least one former CBA activist did, in the CBA offices. Did you not know that when you called me dishonest, or were you just pretending?

    My statement was neither incorrect, nor unfair. It is factual, and it is accurate.

    Go ahead, ask some of the freedom fighters what they think of Hugo Chavez. Tell us how what they say.

  13. joe Says:

    Heh, he even called himself “Hugo.”

    Come on, Lynne, you’re supposed to be “reality-based.”

    And, for the record, I didn’t agree with the CBA’s action. I just pointed out that they’re giving the Chavez people ammunition with their ham-handedness.

  14. joe Says:

    The question isn’t whether people should pay their rents, but how the owners are going about this.

    I used to be on the board of a condo association, and people honestly let their condo fee bill slip their minds all the time. Heck, I did it myself once or twice. If you don’t pay it at the same time every month, you can miss one and not even notice. I imagine this is even easier if you aren’t paying your rent out of your savings, but out of the money you can scrape together that month.

  15. waittilnextyr Says:

    There are too many people having to scrape money together to get by each month. Although some may not make the effort to be responsible, the great majority of the delinquencies are well-meaning people who get trapped with too little income, too many expenses, and lenders that really don’t care as long as they get a return. I recently witnessed an elderly man that was trapped by credit card debt, where he could barely pay the exhorbitant interest (30.49%), let alone reduce the principal of his outstanding debt.

    However, food, housing and utilities should be at the top of everyone’s budget priority. Let’s hope the CBA does well by the tenants, and the tenants in turn are responsible for their bills.

  16. joe Says:

    That really is what it all comes down to, isn’t it, waittil?

  17. Bob F Says:

    Wow - Joe and waittil - it jmust be so nice to see things so clearly and know that someone in Lowell unable to pay his or her rent is somehow a slacker who , I guess in your world view, is poor by choice and is willfully refusing to pay their rent. Makes sense to me that most people in this situation have little or no regard for their children and are happy to be evicted in the winter time. I do not know the circumstances of the CBA situaiton and why folks might be in the money fix they are in, but in case you two missed it, the MA economy is spiraling down,down, down, and there is in fact a giant sucking sound swallowing many in this city up. Budget shortfalls, falling tax revenues, foreclosures, lack of good jobs, is making it hard for folks to get by and what is happening in the CBA’s housing is going on in lots of households. What happend to peace on earth and good will to men and I will add women and children. Rather than start blaming individuals, I’d like to see us take out after the crazy lenders, the slimeball credit card companies who practically beg people to use their products, the checkcashing places that rob low wage workers of 20 % of their pay to cash their check. Happy holidays and for Bill O’Reilly Merry Christmas too!!

  18. waittilnextyr Says:

    Why don’t you re-read the earlier comment(#15), Bob.

  19. Bob F Says:

    sorry waittil -haste can sometime make for dumbness

  20. carlos Says:

    Yo voy a comentar sobre este caso, la realidad es q la MALONEY PROPERTIES no esta haciendo el trabajo como es, ya q hay muchas irregularidades, y quisiera q todo se arreglara, o q monitoreen toda esta situacion, para q no vuelva a pasar y q se le envie un comunicado al residente antes de hacer el proceso q se llevo a cabo antes.

  21. Kim Says:

    I just don’t get it here. They did not get a notice so they did not know they were three years behind? I am sure that most had good reasons for not paying but that still will not make up for the fact that someone has to pay. Who does pay if they cant? We do not live in a socialized country (Who knows maybe thats unfortunate??) but I respect the passion you have for sticking up for those less fortunate but unfortunately you are wrong.

  22. Lynne Says:

    Kim, just FYI - you might want to stop posting on older posts. I’m probably one of the few people who will see them.

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