By DEANA STROISCH (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The State Journal-Register
Posted Dec 22
Citing “serious and pervasive code violations,” the Springfield Housing Authority has stopped issuing new Section 8 vouchers for the MacArthur Park Apartments. Jackie Newman, executive director of the housing authority, notified the owner this week that the agency will prohibit additional Section 8 tenants “until the owner has brought the units into compliance and has demonstrated a history of compliance with city codes for an extended period of time.” Officials say the move should not affect current tenants at the 170-plus-unit complex at 2715 S. MacArthur Blvd.
Ward 7 Ald. Joe McMenamin has asked for months that the agency pull the plug on its Section 8 vouchers. On Thursday, he called SHA’s decision a “significant step. It’ll have immediate and long-term consequences for the improvement of not only Macarthur Boulevard corridor, but for the city in general,” he said. “Landlords are on notice that SHA will not tolerate any history of local code violations.”
Don Craven, the owner’s attorney, said he couldn’t comment until he discussed the matter with the owner today.
Between August and November, city inspectors found hundreds of code violations and declared nearly four dozen MacArthur Park apartments to be uninhabitable. Eight of the four-unit buildings were required to be registered. In early December, the city issued a certificate of occupancy for a building that was first placarded in August, allowing new tenants to move in.
Newman said SHA representatives joined the city during recent inspections. She called the list of code violations “extensive.” In notifying the owner, James Green of Granite Investment Company, Newman pointed to the Code of Federal Regulations, which gives housing agencies the authority to deny rent assistance to “landlords who have a history of practice of renting units that fail to meet state or local housing codes.” Newman said she’s never had to take such action in her 6 1/2 years as SHA executive director. She said between 50 and 55 tenants at the complex receive the federal assistance.
Federal Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8)
* Tenant’s obligations: Comply with the lease and the program requirements, pay his or her share of rent on time, maintain the unit in good condition and notify the housing authority of any changes in income or family composition.
* Landlord’s obligations: Provide decent, safe, and sanitary housing at a reasonable rent. The dwelling unit must pass housing quality standards and be maintained in that condition.
* Housing authority’s obligations: Administer the voucher program locally and contract with the landlord to provide housing assistance payments on behalf of a family. If the landlord fails to meet the owner’s obligations, the housing authority can terminate assistance payments. The housing authority re-examines each family’s income and composition at least annually and must inspect each unit at least annually.
Source: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development