LCI Seeks Speed To Outbid Slumlords

Bass Photo;  Ronnie Rysz Collage; Ricks graphicAfter watching slumlords and other “investors” gobble up thousands of foreclosed homes in city neighborhoods, Serena Neal-Sanjurjo has come up with a plan.

She recently unveiled the plan to a committee of alders, who voted to delay a vote on it until they receive more information.

Neal-Sanjurjo, who heads New Haven’s neighborhood anti-blight agency, the Livable City Initiative (LCI), is asking the lawmakers to streamline the process for buying foreclosed properties from banks.

Right now it takes six to seven months for LCI to win all the approvals necessary to buy blighted abandoned properties, which have continued to stymie renewal in neighborhoods throughout town since the 2008 mortgage crash.

Banks don’t wait six to seven months to weigh offers when they finally decide to unload decaying foreclosed-upon properties. They usually take offers and accept a winner within 30 days.

As a result, a small number of investment companies — some but not all of them repeat violators of housing codes — have dominated the market, compiling portfolios of hundreds or thousands of apartments in Newhallville, Dixwell, Beaver Hills, Fair Haven, and the Hill.

In just 12 months, from June 2015 to June 2016, private investors bought more than 2,000 foreclosed properties in New Haven neighborhoods, Neal-Sanjurjo revealed at a hearing on her proposal held at City Hall last week by the Board of Alders Community Development Committee. She broke down the numbers by neighborhood in a chart distributed to committee members. (See chart at top of the story.)

“We can’t compete with the investors,” who can get “cash on the table” in 30 days, Neal-Sanjurjo said.

Her chart startled Beaver Hills Alder Brian Wingate —  especially the number of properties in his neighborhood, 148, snapped out of foreclosure by the investors in just one year.

“I was staggered” by all the numbers, Neal-Sanjurjo agreed. “I could not believe the numbers were that high. But they are real. It is public record.
Neal-Sanjurjo estimated that 5 or 10 groups of out-of-town investors creating multiple limited liability companies that trade properties among themselves accounted for 75 percent of those 2,000-plus purchases. Often those companies perform just a minimum amount of work to pass inspections, then charge high rents to poor families receiving federal Section 8 subsidies, she said.

“Many working families believe they have no choice for homeownership and must rent,” Neal-Sanjurjo told the committee. She said those same renters could in many cases become homeowners for the same amount they pay in rent if LCI bought and renovated the properties.

Paul Bass File PhotoShe pointed to the success LCI had in helping working families buy restored homes on Putnam Street in the Hill as an example of what the agency can accomplish under the proposed speed-up plan.

Two years ago LCI launched a campaign to help working families become first-time home-buyers. The city offers qualifying buyers $10,000 in downpayment assistance (100 percent forgivable after five years if you still live in the home) and $30,000 in energy-saving upgrades. It created this website to promote the program.

Neal-Sanjurjo’s proposed new foreclosure-sale bidding speed-up is a modest plan. Neal-Sanjurjo said her entire budget to buy properties hovers at only a little above $200,000. But that could pay for 10 distressed properties, she estimated, and if applied strategically, create more Putnam streets.

Right now, she said, LCI’s efforts to help stretches of Newhallville revive get stymied by the foreclosure-purchase problem. For instance, Neal-Sanjurjo said, her office is proceeding with a $2.5 million state bond-funded project to build new homes for local owner-occupants to buy on vacant lots in the area of Thompson Street and Winchester Avenue. “Investor”-owned hovels bought out of foreclosure are sprinkled amid those properties, endangering renewal plans.

30 Days Vs. 7 Months

Under the current system, if LCI seeks to purchase a blighted property, it must negotiate a price with the seller. Then it must obtain a vote of approval from LCI’s Property Acquisition and Dispensation Committee. Next the full LCI board must vote to approve it. Then it goes to the Board of Alders, which sends the proposal to a committee for a hearing and a vote. If the proposal passes committee, it eventually returns to the full board for a “first reading,” then a vote at a subsequent meeting. Next the mayor’s office drafts a contract. The city Finance Department reviews it.

That takes half a year or more, according to Neal-Sanjurjo — five or six months after lenders will have otherwise settled with a private investor on these vacant “REO” (or “real estate owned”) portions of their portfolios.

Her proposal would authorize LCI to go straight from an offer to cash in 30 days in negotiating with banks for a limited number of blighted foreclosed properties by bypassing all those approval steps.

The wording of the proposed order calls for “authorizing the City of New Haven, acting through the Livable City Initiative, to negotiate and enter into a contract to purchase vacant, foreclosed properties form lending institutions throughout the City of New Haven and authorizing the mayor of the City of New Haven to execute and deliver any and all necessary documents to complete the acquisition of said vacant, foreclosed properties.”

“This is a big ask,” Alder Wingate said at last week’s hearing. “it is a big ask,” Neal-Sanjurjo agreed. “Our challenge around home ownership in this city is big. We’re losing a whole segment of population to East Haven, West Haven,” and losing out on helping local working families buy their homes and stabilize their neighborhoods.

Dwight Alder Frank Douglass, the committee chair, raised concern about whether new homeowners would eventually lose their homes, repeating the foreclosure and blight cycle. Neal-Sanjurjo said LCI would partner with not-for-profits to train homeowners and stay in touch with them after purchases to help them avoid problems.

Wingate noted that the proposal in its current form doesn’t contain many details including reporting procedures to the board to help alders monitor the process.

“It comes from a good place,” Wingate said of the proposal.

“I really believe it’s a strong idea. We need something like [this] in New Haven,” he said. “I just want the i’s dotted and the t’s crossed.

“Unfortunately you have foreclosures. We want this program to be managed and well put together with people watching it.”

Douglass, too, praised the general concept while seeking more details. The committee voted unanimously to table the proposal while LCI and Board of Alders staff work on fleshing out the details. “We need to work out the kinds,” Neal-Sanjurjo agreed. “I’m open to any suggestions and recommendations in order to make this work.”

In an interview, James Paley, whose not-for-profit Neighborhood Housing Services also restores blighted properties and resells them to first-time homebuying working families, said he supports efforts like LCI’s proposed plan to combat bank sales of foreclosed-upon properties to private investors.

NHS faces the same problem as LCI in seeing its work threatened by the current foreclosure sales. He called the 2,000 sales over 12 months a “terrifying” phenomenon: “It could undermine everything that we’re trying to do if our homeowners become surrounded by these investment-owned properties.” He recommended that the city go further than speeding up the process of approving a limited number of purchases, and use eminent domain powers to snatch properties from irresponsible banks and slumlords in Enterprise Zone neighborhoods like Newhallville.

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posted by: brownetowne on October 7, 2016  1:28pm

This sounds like a fantastic proposal.  Please give LCI the tools it needs to combat blight.

posted by: Renewhavener on October 7, 2016  1:41pm

From the caption: Neal-Sanjurjo (at left): “We can’t compete.”  That’s because you are not supposed to “compete”.

There is already a critical mass of NGO’s providing support for this purpose.  Leave the city out of it, and whatever you do, do NOT give SN-S / LCI the blank check they are requesting.

The city should not be empowered to act as a developer or to introduce actions like this that artificially warp the housing market any further than it already is.

posted by: cedarhillresident! on October 7, 2016  1:52pm

This women just became my favorite city employee! TY

I see Cedar Hill made the list only 18 remembering that it is only a few street area. That is a lot. We have a few bad ones. But we do have a few good ones….and we are watching 2 of them to see how they do.

posted by: Bobbe Bellamy on October 7, 2016  2:31pm

Hello there Alder Brian Wingate .....  so happy to know you’re still around - especially since we were not graced with your presence during (...nor after) the recent killing on YOUR side of Dorman St.  It would have been welcoming to have you come and support one-of-the neighborhoods you represent.  When was the last time you checked in on this neighborhood in this section of town?  After reading the above article I felt the need to comment as we are hopeful the ABANDONED house #58 Dorman made the list of “10 distressed properties” around town.  The house has been vacant/abandoned for at least 15+ years.  At one distant time and under former Alders, LCI regularly monitored this property for board-ups and clean ups, but this service has since disappeared.

posted by: FacChec on October 7, 2016  3:47pm

LCI can ask and receive approval to speed up the approval process in order to bid and purchase foreclosed homes, but it will not change the elephant in the budget:

“Neal-Sanjurjo said her entire budget to buy properties hovers at only a little above $200,000. But that could pay for 10 distressed properties, she estimated, and if applied strategically, create more Putnam streets”.
With only $200,000 in her budget she could not even out bid NHHS and Payley.
A complete waste of time, back to the drawing board Serena.

Note to Serena… at the rate your boss Nemerson and mayor Harp are encouraging and approving new and rehab apartment building across the city in order to increase the tax base, they’re policies are creating apartment vacancies resulting in increasing landlord foreclosures across city neighborhoods as verified by her report.
The economic development office is working in cross purpose against the efforts of LCI.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on October 7, 2016  7:02pm

People wake up.You are being sold snake-oil and three card monte..This will never happen.

posted by: Noteworthy on October 7, 2016  7:17pm

NO NO NO Notes:

1. There should never be a fast track for government to either spend money or borrow it. Ever.

2. The $200K discussed here is never going to buy 20 houses - unless those houses are in such poor shape they are virtually worthless, in which case, it may be cheaper to tear it down and build new.

3. This crowd with Nemerson’s help recently killed off a couple of development proposals that would have gotten rid of the dilapidated housing, combined the lots and built beautiful rentals.

4. The city should never be in competition for housing with the private sector. Ever.

posted by: vpaul on October 8, 2016  8:42am

Agree with Renewhavener that City should not compete. It should have PRIORITY. Proposal needs work, though. For example how about a mechanism for transferring properties subject to WPCA-lien strict foreclosures to City for rehab and resale? Getting them occupied and back on tax list is win-win for all.

posted by: MyTwoCents on October 8, 2016  8:57am

New Haven also needs to look into changing the way these properties are taxed.

A person who owns one home or an individual who owns a few investment properties, should not be taxed at the same rate as these “mega” investors.  They rent mainly to section 8 with exorbitant rents (that no working person can afford to pay), make huge profits with minimal investments and next to no upkeep.

If they were taxed differently, that might slow down some acquisitions as well as make it fairer for people who are just trying to live, not out to make a dollar.

posted by: Bradley on October 9, 2016  5:59am

MyTwoCents, municipalities are “creatures of the state.” They can only do things the state allows them to do. There is nothing in state law that remotely allows what you propose. Moreover, your proposal could be easily gamed. All a major landlord would have to do is set up a separate LLC for each of its properties.

posted by: Honest in New Haven on October 9, 2016  8:49am

I think Ms. Neal-Sanjurjo has an idea worth refining.  How about partnering with the local non-profit developers to do this? 
The city should figure out a way to intervene in the local real estate market to slow down the abuse of these “investors” who only want these buildings so they can jack up the rents on Section 8 tenants.  They buy the buildings, make minimal repairs if any, and charge the highest market rate Section 8 will allow.  I don’t know what critical mass of NGOs already support this—last time I checked there were only two non-profit developers left in New Haven?  The City should intervene—otherwise working families will continue to be squeezed by these predators who see low-income families as easy targets for their financial schemes!

posted by: robn on October 9, 2016  4:13pm

Note to city,

East Rock leads Newhallville in foreclosures. STOP the usurious taxation on homeowners who actually care for their properties. We’ve had too many years of the city pumping up assessments with “neighborhood” multipliers and ignoring slow rates of sales. STOP soaking the middle class.

To the subject of the article; how about we DONT take properties off of the tax roles and turn them into public housing (which is a double charge for taxpayers not even counting the enormous renovation costs if they’re actually getting them for 20K a pop.)

posted by: Bradley on October 10, 2016  5:21am

Robn, I’m an East Rock homeowner and enjoy paying property taxes about as much as you do. But the neighborhood differences in assessed values generally reflect market realities. Buildings in East Rock sell for substantially more than very similar buildings in Newhallville or Fair Haven.

Connecticut relies far too heavily on property taxes to fund local government and this contributes to foreclosures and blight. But the problem is structural and won’t be solved by simply shifting the property tax burden from East Rock to poorer neighborhoods.

posted by: robn on October 10, 2016  7:07am

BRADLEY,

So what does the ultra high foreclosure rate tell you about the supposed economic paradise which is east rock?

posted by: cedarhillresident! on October 10, 2016  7:28am

ok a little bit of a nit pik here…Robn..(and you know I love you and understand where you are coming from) but what do you mean “actually take care of their properties”? Is that a dig to the poor community’s saying we don’t? Because we “actually” do. And yes it may not be as pristine as property’s in East Rock but that may have more do do with the average house hold income, the hours many blue collar homeowners work in these lower income community’s. You also see more fixed income, seniors, and disabled homeowners in these community’s. So although they may not be painted perfect with lawns all green and cut perfect. These people do with what they have. It is their castle just as much as yours is. I choose to live where I live not because I wanted to live in a poor area…because it is were I am able to afford to live. I make the best of it. I have my neighbors who houses are not perfect to.they are single mothers, single elderly, or just to many jobs family’s. That try to do their best. And I respect that!  Slumlords, if that is what you are referring to well they target our community’s and get cheap places. Some do right by them and some run them into the ground and are a consent battle for those of us that live near them. Our taxes are cheaper because I can not sell my house for a quarter mill., a half mill. I am lucky if I can get 50k. At one point they screwed up and for 4 years were stuck paying an over evaluated rate in my area..that is when our big foreclosure boom happened I lost so many people over here…all because they based the rates on a group of houses that were part of a mortgage fraud scam.  It finally got straightened out..but I do not get that money that I over paid. In the mean time we battle the leaches of the housing industry. Making the values of our home go even lower.  Do I feel for you….of coarse I do. But reality is East Rock and Cedar Hill/ Newhallville are to different planets right now. I heart you. And I do agree with Bradley!

posted by: robn on October 10, 2016  9:24am

CHR,

No it was a dig at absentee landlords who own so much property in poor neighborhoods and plague the nearby homeowners who take care of their property by diminishing that neighborhood’s values, and plague far away owners who take care of their property by offsetting tax burden on them. Someone recently said it well, it’s more the apttern than the anomoly that absentee landlords play the system by charging enormous rents (subsidized by govt housing assistance checks) and simultaneously running the properties into the ground to purposefully lower their tax burden.

posted by: Dwightstreeter on October 10, 2016  10:37am

Finally a legitimate use for eminent domain.
Have the City exercise its right to take and then sell the properties to people in the neighborhood who qualify by virtue of residence and ability to meet expenses.
Home ownership has dropped.
Luxury building is up.
The trend is all too obvious.
We have options.
Will the unions and the Alders and the Mayor get behind taking action for people other than campaign contributors?
Three-fifths and I challenge you.
And we’re still waiting for Ethics reform.

posted by: Renewhavener on October 10, 2016  2:21pm

@dwightstreeter, “Finally a legitimate use for eminent domain.  Have the City exercise its right to take and then sell the properties to people in the neighborhood who qualify by virtue of residence and ability to meet expenses…”

Wait, what??

Not the topic, but okay, let’s go. 

Think everyone has the use of ED as a tool completely twisted.  This is not a tool for social engineering.  It’s for economic development on a large scale.  The legal construct of “public good” is being overstretched.  Even the likes of Joel Schivone has it wrong:
http://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/redevelopment_plan/

(Aside, I wish he had camped out atop a building in Dwight as was once his tradition when it comes to drawing attention to past quixotic missions, but alas: http://www.nytimes.com/1993/03/07/nyregion/for-new-haven-no-more-macy-s-maybe-no-more-hockey.html?pagewanted=all )

Spot ED is a slippery slope.  What’s to stop the City from taking the properties of people who say refuse to donate to a Democratic PAC, or other preferred organization?  What’s to stop the City from making poor underwriting judgments on those who meet your purity test by “virtue of residence and ability to meet expenses.”  What’s to stop the City from taking the properties back again if they are unsatisfied in some way?  We had a system like this once.  It was called the feudal system.

A more typically, and more accepted, use of the ED tool in the real world would be on a large scale and associated with a more substantial improvement, such that an appreciable amount of public good is generated, as opposed to the just a marginal amount of good transferring ownership of one property might do. 

That is not “a legitimate use for eminent domain”.  It is just a bad idea. 

It’s different from SN-S/LCI’s idea.  Which is also bad, but for other reasons.

posted by: vpaul on October 10, 2016  3:03pm

To Renewhavener: If the tools are there they are there to be used. If intended to be restricted, it’s easy enough to write that in.

To NHI: Great article, Paul. You see all the discussion it has provoked. Bravo to the interested New Haveners!

posted by: Dwightstreeter on October 10, 2016  3:24pm

Linear thinking is too restrictive, Renewhavener.
For centuries ED was restricted to a public benefit, not to redevelopment to grow the tax base. The taking of private property has been redefined, so why shouldn’t I add a public benefit that I favor. You clearly are in the development corner and have no problem with taking someone’s house to build a mall. I do.
Why is growing the tax base, a purely economic goal, superior to saving homes for people who didn’t cause the economic crash, but sure have taken the brunt of all the fallout from it?
The current crop of politicians in both so-called major parties (so-called because there are really more unafilliateds than Ds or Rs) are part of the destruction of the middle class.
Where are the innovations to halt foreclosures?
The vultures have scooped up the pickings and are having a feast.
Schiavone’s proposal is just another creative way to take from the poor and give to the affluent.
Keeping up with these scams is just wearing me out.

posted by: Esbey on October 10, 2016  3:37pm

Isn’t the underlying problem the abuse of the Section 8 program?  Unscrupulous landlords find that they get rent poorly maintained properties at high rental rates only because the government is paying the rent. 

Maybe the solution is reform of Section 8, requiring that properties with high rent are actually properly maintained.

Under the current system, a lot of these properties are going to be “managed” into abandonment, likely with large unpaid tax bills that can’t be collected from LLCs that have been stripped of all assets.

In the meantime, the proposal is probably good, but given the budget it will save a small handful of houses.

posted by: Bradley on October 10, 2016  9:02pm

Robin, the table at the top of the article tells you nothing about the foreclosure rate - It simply lists the number of foreclosed properties that were purchased. Two quite different variables with no necessary relationship between them.

More importantly, the table says nothing on how long the buildings were in foreclosure or anything about the buyers. A neighborhood where foreclosed properties are sold quickly to responsible buyers is very different from one where properties are in the foreclosure process for lengthy periods or where slumlords routinely buy foreclosed properties.

posted by: robn on October 11, 2016  5:27am

BRADLEY,

The relation between foreclosure sales and foreclosure rates is that the former is less than the latter. Given that, the list is even more alarming.

To your last point, foreclosure indicates economic distress for residents, no matter who ends up buying the property.

posted by: westville man on October 11, 2016  7:44am

Perhaps I am wrong I thought LCI had the power to levy liens for blight issues. If so, they should do so aggressively and foreclose on those liens. At least that will get the property transferred to a new owner. Giving the government eminent domain to “take ” a property due to blight issues opens up a can of worms that could get very messy.

posted by: vpaul on October 11, 2016  9:38am

Problem is, Westville Man, that these liens are relatively very small in monetary amounts, usually for the expense of boarding up, removing a dilapidated outbuilding, etc., so that very few would be useful in actually acquiring title. They are more of a nuisance in that the owner can’t sell or refinance without paying them off.

posted by: westville man on October 11, 2016  11:30am

Vpaul-  No matter how much they are, they can still foreclose on the owner unless your point is that the owner will pay them off.  Once an attorney gets it and starts the process, the debt balloons to over $2,500 in legal fees and costs immediately.  Much liike sewer and water lien foreclosures. The owner loses the property unless payment in full is made.

posted by: Renewhavener on October 11, 2016  2:39pm

@vpaul, “If the tools are there they are there to be used. If intended to be restricted, it’s easy enough to write that in.”

Just because you could use a sledgehammer to swat a fly doesn’t make it a good idea.  Think you also oversimplify.

@Dwightstreeter, You are correct.  I think taking people’s houses for meaningful projects is acceptable as long as they get fair value for it and there is a reasonable process for the transaction.  This is not the thrust of the article, which is about the government interference as a market actor (which I oppose) in contrast to a more typical role as a market regulator (which I endorse but think has gone too far in some cases, not all).

To make clear my feeling on ED, there had better be a big impact to justify it.  In that spirit, if given the opportunity, it should be used IMO to take property throughout Fairfield county to widen I-95 from NH to NYC; Likewise to widen the Merritt Parkway; Also to straighten rail easements or dig a tunnel under the sound to get true high-speed trains through (I’m talking door-to-door to Penn Station in under 45 minutes BTW); In addition to collapsing any/all buildings in East Haven that stand in the way of making Tweed’s runway longer; All of this while also making the airport and the above rail / road investments intermodal:
http://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/tweed_suing_state_over_runway/

This is of course political fantasy.  But dare to dream, right?

“Where are the innovations to halt foreclosures?” 

But do we really need innovation here, honestly? Let’s try being self-sufficient, resourceful and living within our means for starters.

posted by: vpaul on October 11, 2016  6:35pm

Wes - The City brings the action, therefore corporation counsel cannot charge fees. Plus they send notice ahead of time. The most neglectful owner will pay up the chump change when it gets to that point. If they are current on taxes, they’re not going to let the property go. If not, tax foreclosure can be initiated which would run up serious costs.

posted by: vpaul on October 11, 2016  6:41pm

Wes - The City brings the action, therefore corporation counsel cannot charge fees. Plus they send notice ahead of time. The most neglectful owner will pay up the chump change when it gets to that point. If they are current on taxes, they’re not going to let the property go. If not, tax foreclosure can be initiated which would run up serious costs.

Renewhavener - It may not be a good idea, but it’s effective. Better mechanisms can be devised, but so far haven’t been. When you and I run for Alder, we’ll work on it!

posted by: Renewhavener on October 12, 2016  10:00am

@vpaul, “Renewhavener - It may not be a good idea, but it’s effective. Better mechanisms can be devised, but so far haven’t been. When you and I run for Alder, we’ll work on it!”

Effective?  To extend the metaphor, only when you make contact bud… the rest of the time you just do more unintended damage.  Better mechanisms have been devised and are at play.  Let them work. 

If you want to do some good, walk back some market-warping regulations such as Section 8 as Esbey suggested above or better yet lobby for higher LTV thresholds and tougher underwriting standards for FHA loans so undercapitalized buyers don’t end up having to give the buildings back to the banks in the first place.

When you do become alder btw would like to see you work to make about twenty-three fewer of them, and spread their measly remuneration across only seven who can actually accomplish something and who give a damn about who they represent.  A lot of them don’t show up to meetings anyway, and when some do, at least for our fair ward’s representative, all he does is let his own work interests get in the way of legislating effectively:
http://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/yale_development_vote/
http://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/science_hill/
http://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/yale_parkign_plan/

posted by: vpaul on October 12, 2016  7:36pm

The “free market” religionists are responsible for the Great Depression and the Great Recession. Renewhavener, I’d rather see you involve your brain-power and creativity to helping the City solve its problems, rather than pull back and let others handle it in the guise of laissez faire. Or, should it be “Lazy Faire” ?

posted by: Renewhavener on October 13, 2016  4:07pm

@vpaul, “The “free market” religionists are responsible for the Great Depression and the Great Recession. Renewhavener, I’d rather see you involve your brain-power and creativity to helping the City solve its problems, rather than pull back and let others handle it in the guise of laissez faire. Or, should it be “Lazy Faire” ?”

Lazy Faire?  Hardly.  Prefer self-aware.

To your first point, you have again oversimplified and compounded matters by way of an incomprehension.  Do not know what a “free market regionalists” is.  Honestly.  Perhaps you can explain further what you meant as typically free-market proponents tend to be capitalist whilst regionalists tend to be socialists. 

Either way, let’s just make sure we have this right that you are really suggesting one ought to volunteer to follow in the footsteps of the last alder who attempted to swim against the tide and was run out of town on a rail?:
http://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/michael_stratton_nolle/
http://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/stratton_resigns/
http://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/warrant_issued_for_strattons_arrest/

You must be new to town.

posted by: westville man on October 13, 2016  7:18pm

Vpaul.  Corp counsel does Not foreclose on tax or sewer liens- outside counsel does.  I assume the same would hold true for blight liens.  They’d give it to a local law firm and fees would accrue as I indicated

posted by: cantsufferfools on October 14, 2016  1:02pm

So, I am not well versed on the politics of this particular proposal but I am well versed on being a resident of the city. I know many many resident here are struggling to pay a full rent, such as myself and none of the landlords are held to the task of keeping up their properties at all. We can place phone calls to this one and that one and nothing happens. I realize that we are not being held hostage and can move, but for most of working people, that would take quite a bit of saving. Plenty of these landlords are catering ONLY to those with a subsidy because its guaranteed money, but again not taking care of the properties. I am sure the landlords wouldnt have their families living like some of their tenants live. Who is going police those issues?

posted by: olesailorman on October 14, 2016  1:38pm

With a budget of only $200,000 her goal is unrealistic.
Also it’s unfair to blame landlords for the blight. Many of the investor owned homes are maintained better than quite a few owner occupied properties.

I’ve recently toured much of the Beaver Hills neighborhood. Most of the blight consists of badly maintained single family homes. It’s obvious that many families bought homes there and can not afford their upkeep. Many of the homes are large, over 3,000 sq feet and require maintenance budgets of thousand a year. Solutions for these problems are not simplistic.

If the alders pass such a proposal, the acquisition times for purchases by the city may speed up. Then what? I’ve seen such city owned properties languish for years before rehab and resale is completed. The fact that LCI completed one such project doesn’t mean that they can complete dozens within a reasonable time. Past performance shows otherwise…

posted by: olesailorman on October 14, 2016  1:51pm

Why do so many of you think that properties rented to Section 8 tenants are so badly maintained? They are inspected per Federal law on an annual basis. Do you think that the inspectors are not doing their jobs? In most cases LCI as agent for the New Haven Housing Authority (the issuer of most Section 8 certificates), does these inspections. If so, that’s where you should target your angst…

I’ve been a small landlord (and resident) in New Haven. When I had Section 8 tenants, I was given rental rates equal to the fair market value, no higher. I couldn’t charge whatever I wanted.  Also, the inspectors were all over me if there were minor problems such as cracked ceiling plaster, ripped screens, peeling paint or a cracked window.

There are many half truths floating around out there…

posted by: vpaul on October 14, 2016  8:20pm

Renewhavener, no one said “regionalist,” not even you when you quoted me. But why not try to help with creative solutions to our City’s problems instead of parroting abstract dogma? Let’s work together on renewing this worthwhile place. Pax vobiscum.

posted by: Dwightstreeter on October 15, 2016  7:58am

LCI is already burdened with too many responsibilities it does not meet.
The underlying issue remains that real property taxes (and others) are too high because the Yale Corp. and Yale New Haven Hospital, the 2 largest employers in New Haven, have out dated tax exemptions that enable them to accumulate greater wealth at the expense of their workers and the residents of New Haven.
The State budget is in a downward spiral and is cutting services to our most vulnerable citizens, the mentally ill, aid to children and the sick, even as millions are pumped into scam charter schools backed by hedge funds because they are a good investment, i.e. profit making.
A strong executive, backed by unions truly in the corner of the working people, would use eminent domain to SAVE properties for residents.
If not, New Haven will become a place of transients, uninvolved and unaware of local issues - like a Stamford.
The high level of civil involvement and community based groups will be eroded as properties pass to developers who will build only for the affluent because that’s where the money is.
The City must continue to press the Legislature to review the centuries old assumptions that led to the tax breaks for the Yale Corp, a multinational corporation of diminishing value to the City of New Haven’s residents, and put in place more equitable system of taxation that gives relief to the middle class.
If not, prepare for diminished services and more homeless people on the streets.

posted by: vpaul on October 15, 2016  8:10am

Westville man, you assume much with no indication in fact. There has been far to much “privatization” of functions which require governmental policy judgments being turned over to for-profit enterprises. If eminent domain not a good tool, let’s develop a better one. We’re not confined to existing (and failed) methods.