BIG ISLAND HOUSING FOUNDATION LOST
On November 6, 2013 Big Island Housing Foundation (BIHF) attempted to evict an outspoken tenant from Riverside Apartments (District Court Case # 13-1-725).
What on the surface appeared to be just another routine Landlord/Tenant dispute in Hilo District Court for a Summary Possession (Eviction), has taken a turn for the downright bizarre, and it is definitely shaping up to be an event to follow.
The Stakes are high for both sides: for the Defendant, Donna La Belle, it’s homelessness for this outspoken single mother and her disabled child; for the Plaintiff, Big Island Housing Foundation, it may be a $2 million building sale and a nearly $8 million Hawaii Housing Foundation and Development Corporation (HHFDC) grant for much needed renovations and repairs to Riverside.
Donna, representing herself Pro Se, won a hard fought (I know, I was there.) continuance hearing, Hon. Judge Freitas presiding, in what she claims is a retaliatory eviction attempt initiated by BIHF in August. The new Summary Possession Trial date is set for January 22, 2014. Most surprising was BIHF’s Attorney, Sandra Pechter Song’s statement that Donna’s claims are delaying the closing, and there may not be any renovations until her claims are resolved. Ms. Song was referring to the Civil Suit Donna filed in Circuit Court (Case # 13-1-0554).
I’ve read Donna’s Civil Suit and her allegations are sordid. On its face there are contentions of unsafe housing, stalking, intimidation by BIHF employees, witness intimidation, assault, fraud, destruction of evidence, and other nefarious deeds. The Civil Suit goes on to detail an oppressive atmosphere much like a prison. Donna has the recordings to back up her claims.
So, if I understand correctly, based on Executive Director Delene Osorio’s comments of October 13, 2013, (which were recorded and are posted here), the sale of Riverside Apartments, and the nearly $8M HHFDC grant that comes with it, has an impending Deadline. With Donna’s Summary Possession Trial now set for January 22, 2014, does this mean that the sale of Riverside is no longer going to happen? If not, what happens to the $8 Million HHFDC grant? What about the fate of the 100s of other tenants? Of Donna and her disabled child? Was Ms. Song’s information accurate?
I know I have more questions than answers, and I welcome any insights you may have to offer. Meanwhile, I promise to keep you posted as I get more info. Donna has given me 100s of recordings over an extended period of time, which is why I think she will come out of all this on top. I am weeding through them now, and with her permission, will be posting some soon. You have to hear to believe. But, really not surprising, all things considered. Corruption is what it is.
On October 13, 2013 Big Island Housing Foundation’s (BIHF) Executive Director, Delene Osorio met with HUD Residents to discuss the nearly $8 Million renovation plan of the Riverside Apartments.
For the residents who couldn’t make the meeting, here’s the recording.
Listen to Delene Osorio tell a current Riverside resident who questions not wanting to pay full rent for a unit that she will not get full use of, “Its part of the Relocation Plan… it’s in essence to hold your place. So, if you didn’t want to be there because we are renovating, then we will take your 28 days notice to vacate.” and “Under the Relocation Plan, if you’re going to be a tenant after the relocation, you pay your rent.”
How do you like BIHF’s Relocation Plan? They collect full rent on your unit, and you can;
A. Spend your days in a “refuge center” with all the other tenants.
Or, if that doesn’t suit you;
B. You are welcome to stay in your unit with tarps covering the daylight to “minimize airborne dust” entering your home, listening to heavy equipment pounding, feeling the building shaking.
And if that doesn’t sound too good either;
C. You can always just give up your home.
America is, after all, the Land of Choices, and we all know low-income HUD residents are surrounded by nothing but an abundance of housing choices.
Perhaps it’s time that HUD steps in and helps BIHF get a better “Plan”, one that does not involve collecting full market rent on behalf of low income tenants, while exploiting these very same People.