PHILADELPHIA (CN) – Of all the Simon Legrees — Uncle Sam? A charity that runs a housing project for 350 poor old people says the Department of Housing and Urban Development is foreclosing and will not grant an appeal, though the charity is willing and able to cure any alleged defaults.
The Brith Sholom Foundation says the foreclosure is based on a faulty inspection that deducted points because of the condition of apartments that were unoccupied and being renovated.
Brith Sholom filed an emergency petition and federal complaint to enjoin HUD from going through with the foreclosure and public auction, scheduled for today.
If the housing project is foreclosed, some monthly rents will increase by more than $200 because the foundation will no longer be able subsidize them, according to the complaint.
Plaintiffs Lucinda McBurnettte and Abdus Sabur, two African-Americans in their 60s who rent apartments in the complex, say they will be evicted after their rents increase from the current rate of $455 to $682.
Brith Sholom says it has provided safe, affordable housing to senior citizens for more than 45 years. The Brith Sholom House in Philadelphia houses 350 senior citizens whose average age is 85, the foundation says.
Recipients of HUD loans face regular inspections but are entitled to challenge low scores before facing foreclosure, according to the complaint.
HUD claimed that the foundation was in default and did not make required repairs from a previous inspection.
But Brith Sholom claims the HUD inspection was not a “random sampling” because it included apartments that should have been exempt from inspection.
HUD deducted points on the inspection for missing carpet and air conditioning units, but the foundation says the apartments in question were unoccupied and under renovation.
Brith Sholom says it should have passed the initial inspection, but HUD will not even process the foundation’s request for an appeal.
It says HUD’s foreclosure is arbitrary and capricious, and the “HUD, itself, has certified that The Brith Sholom House is in substantial compliance with all applicable state and federal housing statutes, regulations, ordinances and codes. The owner of the Brith Sholom House has cured and will cure any alleged physical deficiencies and is able to cure any alleged monetary default. HUD, however, has refused to allow the owner of the Brith Sholom House to cure the alleged monetary defaults and has initiated the foreclosure proceedings without just cause and without notice to the tenants.”
The foundation and its tenants seek an injunction, alleging due process violations. Their lead attorney is Jeffrey Scott with Archer & Greiner.