Several years ago a fire destroyed a 50 unit public housing building in Redwood Falls, Minnesota. The Redwood Falls HRA applied to HUD for funds to rebuild the project but was denied. As a result, the building remained untouched and the former residents were all displaced until eventually the HRA was referred to HJC for help.
What HJC discovered was that HUD had mixed up two of its programs and had denied the HRA funding under a program different from the one under which the HRA had applied. When HJC threatened to sue on the HRA’s behalf, HUD eventually reversed course and agreed to provide $1.7 million in funding to support the rehabilitation. That work is finally underway. In the course of this work, HJC also discovered that HUD was shortchanging the HRA on its operating subsidy payments — the flow of payments designed to cover the gap between the rents tenants could pay and what it took to operate the building. HJC was able to get HUD to agree to fix that as well.
There are many small housing authorities in Greater Minnesota (and across the country) that struggle to administer badly needed local housing programs due to small staffs and limited capacity. This case illustrates what a difference it can make when a small HRA has access to expert legal counsel.