Complex Negotiations

Resident Debra Wiliams tried to pay her March rent; instead she was served with an eviction notice her attorney says is illegal.

After months of being threatened with losing their homes – through no fault of their own – low-income residents of Seaside’s Del Monte Manor have their first ray of hope: Officials from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) have agreed to sit down with the housing complex’s Board of Directors to try to resolve a longstanding contract dispute.

The meeting comes after Board President Norah Saffold sent a letter to Tom Azumbrado, director of HUD’s San Francisco Multifamily Hub on Feb. 28, a day after a board meeting where Saffold said he’d welcome facing HUD in court.

In the letter he sent Azumbrado the next day, Saffold’s tone was purely conciliatory. “[We] would like to extend an olive branch,” Saffold writes, “to meet and discuss the issues centered on the contract dispute.”

Del Monte Manor has not received funds from HUD for its 98 subsidized units since August 2012; HUD says that’s due to paperwork not being filed correctly, among other things.

Saffold attributes those problems to issues with software, “which we now fully concede is a problem,” he writes, adding that it took management 16 months to come to that realization.

Gene Gibson, HUD’s regional public affairs officer for Region IX, says it’s a welcome development. “Tom said, ‘Why not sit down and talk to these folks?’” Gibson says. “We certainly don’t want to shoot down any discussion in helping resolve these contract issues.” Gibson adds officials from HUD’s Department Enforcement Center will also be present at the meeting, scheduled some time at the end of March.

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