Photo (l-r): James Westmoreland, Project Manager; William Diaz, Chief Project Manager; and, Charles Hockensmith, Construction Analyst
Under Section 202 of the Housing Act of 1959, HUD provides capital advances to eligible private, nonprofit sponsors to finance multifamily rental housing with support services for the elderly. This rental subsidy requires the sponsor or owner to provide residents with decent, safe and affordable housing. HUD regularly monitors the development to ensure that the owner is fulfilling its responsibilities, and can terminate the rental subsidy if it finds the development does not meet HUD's housing quality standards. HUD takes it duty of monitoring sponsors very seriously, especially when residents complain and their health and welfare may be in danger. A recent example of HUD's intervention and successful outcome is below.
Ahuva Keshet is an Israeli immigrant and tenant of a HUD-funded senior development called John Crawford Senior Housing. She came to this country recently with high hopes and expectations of a better life. She and her family found affordable housing at John Crawford, located in a northern, rustic community in New York. Unfortunately her dream turned into a nightmare when her apartment became unbearably cold after new windows were improperly installed. She and many other tenants complained to the management company for years of the frigid, cold air seeping through cracks in the frame of the windows. Unfortunately, management turned a deaf ear on them and the problem persisted. Only recently were the tenants provided with plastic covers to place over the air conditioning sleeves, which did nothing to alleviate the problem. Finally, Ms. Keshet found a compassionate and dedicated HUD employee, William Diaz of the New York Multifamily Hub, who was more than willing to help.
John Crawford is a 96-unit senior housing development located in Monticello, New York, 80 miles north of New York City. Its winters are cold and harsh. Upon learning of Ms. Keshet's plight, William took swift action and conducted an on-site inspection with two of his colleagues, Project Managers James Westmoreland and Carducci Dorleans. They confirmed that there were indeed significant cold air coming through the windows and the doors of the units. William and his team met with management to directly address and resolve the problem. After discussions with management, they finally agreed to make the needed repairs by hiring a qualified contractor to redo the work. HUD monitored the repairs over the next six (6) months until all the window repairs were completed and a final inspection was done by Construction Analyst, Charles Hockensmith. This was a joyous moment for Ms. Keshet and the rest of the residents who no longer have to wear their coats and hats indoors, and suffer from bitter temperatures and sickness. They have expressed "tremendous heart felt gratitude" to William, Jim, Carducci, and Charles for coming to their aid and finally putting an end to the cold conditions in their units.
In Ms. Keshet's own words: "It cannot be put into words 5 years of horrific cold culminating this past year with the worst winter yet. When we all complained we were essentially told that the windows were fine. They all had excellent insulation and when we complained for years about the cold coming from the air conditioner hole they told us that there was nothing that could be done, and then finally they gave us last year a plastic covering. And when we told them that it was still cold, again nothing could be done....I have in my working life confronted many, many times blind bureaucracy but with you and your team Mr. Diaz, you have stood fast and with sheer determination did the impossible."