A year ago, residents at Seaside’s Del Monte Manor, the largest affordable housing complex on the Monterey Peninsula, were unsure how much longer they’d have a roof over their heads.
The property, which has 98 units under contract with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), hadn’t received federal housing subsidies since August 2012 due to questionable management by its former board.
Safety hazards often went unfixed, and the condition of the property declined. Instead of doing the necessary work to regain compliance with HUD, last spring the former management decided to sue the feds. A tattered U.S. flag that had flown on the property for decades was lowered and never replaced.
What a difference a year makes.
A new board took over last August and settled the lawsuit with HUD in October. In December, they rehired The John Stewart Company (JSCo), the management company the former board dismissed in 2012.
Already the results are evident: Six months of past subsidies have been recouped, and long-deferred maintenance projects have been in full swing for weeks in preparation for inspections by HUD officials April 14-15.
“Given that there’s been two years of deferred maintenance, we are focusing on the most urgent tasks like safety issues and habitability issues,” says Warren Reed, assistant vice president of JSCo’s regional office. “We have a long list.”
This week’s inspection marks the first time HUD has visited the property since June 2011. “We’re working very hard to make sure the property is up to the normal standards and HUD’s expectations,” Reed says.
Touring Del Monte Manor a day before the inspection, it’s easy to see some of the fixes. Holes in overhangs have been patched, and once-loose safety railings have been shored up. In some places, contractors have even planted flowers.
“Crews are up there every day doing something,” Del Monte Manor board member Jim Vossen says. “They’re not taking the money and going on any cruises.”
And though recent fixes are the most visible sign of JSCo’s work, the most difficult task they’ve faced since returning is bringing money back in.
To recoup the subsidies, Reed says JSCo has had to rebuild tenant files starting from September 2012, confirming information like income eligibility. To do that, they’ve relied on the tenants’ help.
Reed won’t say how much JSCo has recovered from the feds so far. (When JSCo operated on the property in 2012, monthly subsidies totaled about $40,000.) But he says the money should start rolling in faster now. “We’re moving quickly through it, because we’re getting great cooperation from the residents,” he says.
Given the ordeal created by former management, he adds, the property is fortunate to have remained in HUD’s good graces.
“We’re lucky, frankly, that HUD has decided to keep these funds allocated instead of giving them away,” he says, “because that is their right.”