The 25th Annual NAHT Conference to Save Our Homes was a complete success!
The first day of the conference started off yesterday with registration, snacks and reuniting with old friends.
Sunday morning began with our Group Awards Ceremony. Organized tenant groups from around the country were recognized for their struggles to save affordable housing, improve conditions, fight for their right to organize and more!
“Everybody in here pays taxes to live in housing that is safe, sanitary and affordable housing, and we’re not gonna stop fighting til we get it!” -Latresa, tenant leader in Atlanta, GA fighting for improved living conditions in her home!
“Management tried to individuate us. I ain’t bowing down to nobody. I’m a resident and I deserve the best.” -Linda from Chicago
“We wanna make sure no one loses their home in the RAD process.”
After the awards ceremony, we were joined by two keynote speakers, Diane Yentel of the National Low Income Housing Coalition and Molly Parker, investigative reporter from the Southern Illinoisan who reports on subsidized housing condition issues.
The NAHT Conference boasts 20 tenant-led workshops on a variety of topics. Tenant leaders from around the country led discussions on Section 8 contracts, how to start and sustain a tenant group, REAC reform, how to win repairs, security with justice, fair housing, resident ownership, gentrification and displacement and many more. We got the opportunity to talk to each other, learn from each other and left feeling empowered to take what we learned back to our buildings.
Every year, NAHT meets with top HUD officials to press our agenda on tenant involvement in the REAC inspection process, management oversight process and funding for tenant organizing. Thank you to all HUD officials who attended! See our proposals here!
The final day of the conference is our legislative advocacy day! In the morning, tenants presented our legislative agenda, which a can be found here, which includes tenant empowerment and REAC reform provisions, to legislative aides from Congressional offices from both the House and the Senate.
Then we got visits from several special guest allies!
Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) believes in the power of rent withholding to enforce housing standards and so do we! Our bill would strengthen rent withholding for HUD tenants by withholding HUD’s portion of the rent when tenants go on rent strike in substandard buildings!
Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) longtime supporter of NAHT, spoke on the importance of full funding for public housing, project based Section 8 and other HUD programs. It should be the mission of our nation to take care of the most vulnerable!
Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) met with NAHT yet again and encouraged us to keep fighting, keep voting and keep speaking up for ourselves. Thank you for your long time support of tenant organizing, safe and healthy housing and tenant empowerment!
“We have to make sure we’re preserving the affordable housing that exists and we have to raise the living conditions. We have to empower tenants and residents to move us in the right direction.” Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) is on board! Thank you for meeting with us!
All in all, another great NAHT Conference is on the books. Thanks to all the attendees, volunteers and presenters for making our 25th Annual Conference a success!
For release: March 13, 2019
Contact: Geraldine Collins 516-425-6723 firstname.lastname@example.org or Michael Kane 617-233-1885 email@example.com
Elected leaders of the national US tenants union today demanded immediate and total rejection by Congress of President Donald Trump’s 2020 budget request, released on March 11.
“Its actually worse than last year. Trump’s budget will push people from their homes; starve seniors, children and families; and deny health care to millions of people,” said Geraldine Collins, President of the National Alliance of HUD Tenants (NAHT), who lives in a senior housing development in Manhattan. “People will die if these proposals see the light of day. Congress should declare Trump’s 2019 budget ‘dead on arrival’ instead.”
Added Collins, “The recent shutdown crisis led by Trump caused millions to panic that they would be evicted because HUD and USDA funds would run out for their homes. Landlords are now warier about taking Section 8 tenants, and housing authorities are under severe pressure to sell off public housing. You have to ask: was the shutdown a deliberate attempt to destroy HUD rental housing? Another ‘shutdown showdown’ is looming again in September over Trump’s Wall.” Collins noted that the 16% cut proposed this year is consistent with the Heritage Foundation’s draconian plan to terminate HUD rental housing over 10 years, embraced by Trump’s Chief of Staff and former Budget Director Mick Mulvaney.Read more
The stop-gap agreement with congressional leaders will last three weeks, until Feb. 15, and would allow talks to continue over border security and a wall on the southern border. The agreement includes no new money for the wall, and is a massive concession on Trump's behalf after refusing a similar funding package a month ago.
With the temporary re-opening of HUD and other agencies, an immediate catastrophe was averted as airports began to close across the country. Congress has now authorized about two more months of funding for HUD, USDA and other critical agencies.
Trump’s Shutdown Threatens 3.4 Million Low Income Tenants with Displacement: Take Action NOW to Save Our Homes!
The Trump shutdown of HUD and other federal agencies has already dragged on for 19 days, the longest in US history, with no end in sight! HUD tenants are already feeling the sting.
On Monday, January 7, HUD announced that no funds are available to renew 1,150 Section 8 contracts that expired in December 2018 and January 2019, or another 550 contracts that expire in February 2019 or beyond. An estimated 100,000 low income households--elderly, people with disabilities and families with children-- already face repair and service cutbacks, and could face rent increases and displacement, if HUD funds are not restored soon.
Worse, another 21,150 Section 8 contracts housing 1.1 million low income renters have been funded only through February. There is no evidence that HUD has funds for these properties if the shutdown continues into March, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.
In addition, HUD does not have funds to continue subsidies after February for 2.2 million more Section 8 Voucher recipients, administered by local housing authorities. For all Section 8 tenants, owners could attempt to terminate the leases low income tenants unable to pay rents three or four times what they pay today, to cover operating costs if HUD subsidies are terminated.
Trump has threatened to make the shutdown last for “months or years” if he doesn’t get his Wall. If the shutdown lasts past February, a total of 3.4 million Section 8 tenants could lose their homes.
On January 2, the newly elected House voted to approve a HUD Appropriations bill, previously passed by the Republican Senate, to fully fund Section 8. But Republican Leader McConnell refuses to bring this or any other funding bill to the Senate Floor, unless Trump will sign it, and Trump has vowed to reject any bill until Congress provides $5.6 billion for the Wall. Democrats demand that Congress reopen closed agencies first, and debate “border security” and the Wall separately.
For a good explanation of how Section 8 contracts work and the threats to HUD tenants, see the NBC articles below and this blog post from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.
Also see NAHT's resource page for articles about the impact of the shutdown on current low-income tenants.
What Tenants Can Do To Save Our Homes
- Find the buildings whose contracts have already expired and are not yet funded. You can check if your building has a Section 8 contract expiring soon on through NLIHC's map here or through their spreadsheet here. If your building is on this list, most likely HUD funds have ALREADY been cut from your building! Owners and managers can see if they have been receiving payments from HUD through their online database system, called LOCCS (HUDs Line of Credit Control System). Contact the owner and manager of your building and ask them if they have funds available in their LOCCS account have been receiving payments through LOCCS.
- Line up tenant leaders for quotes in media stories about the cuts--issue a press release and contact local media, to make tenant voices heard! Use the press release from the NAHT Board for quotes and messaging. If you can, organize a press conference at a housing development, city agency, HUD office or local Senator’s office--invite elected officials to join tenants to protest the cuts! Let NAHT know of affected tenants willing to talk to national media! NAHT has been contacted by national media outlets, including NBC News, looking for tenants to interview at affected buildings. Contact NAHT at 617-522-4523 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Mobilize tenants to tell Congress to approve HUD funding NOW, especially in buildings with expiring contracts where you have tenant contacts. If you don’t, doorknock and post flyers letting tenants know that their building is directly affected and the information they need to contact their Senator, including a call-in script. Click here to find your Senator or Representative, especially Republicans who have refused to fund HUD. In particular, tell Republican Senators to pass the Appropriations Bill they supported before the shutdown started! Organize phone banks to call your Senator, or ask tenants to call while doorknocking.
Message: “I’m a <senior, disabled, family> Section 8 tenant at <your development>. Without Section 8, my rent could triple or quadruple overnight and I would lose my home. I’m one of 3.4 million Section 8 tenants who could lose our homes if the shutdown lasts through February. My home should not be held hostage to Trump’s Wall!”
For Democrats: Thank them for their support to pass the HUD budget NOW.
For Republican Senators: Demand that they tell Majority Leader McConnell to bring the HUD funding bill to the Senate Floor and pass it NOW!
For Republican Representatives (House): Demand they vote to support the HUD funding bill and override Trump’s veto. A vote against the HUD bill is a vote to throw people out of their homes.
- Start a social media campaign. Post your messages to Facebook, Twitter and other social media. Find your Senator’s Twitter handle here and your Representatives Twitter handle here.. Organize Twitter users to tweet on the same day or in a specific time window using the same hashtag to get your topic “trending”.
- Organize a postcard campaign demanding your Congresspeople pass the Appropriations bill to reopen the government! You can organize press and social media when postcards are delivered to local offices. See NAHT's postcard and phone bank tip sheet here!
- Keep NAHT posted of your local actions! We will post them on NAHT’s Facebook page and website. Join NAHT’s weekly Strategy Calls as long as the shutdown lasts. Contact the NAHT office to join the list serve. The calls are currently every Wednesday at 12:30 pm EST.
DISLCALIMER: VISTA Volunteers are not permitted to lobby for or against legislation.
At every NAHT Conference, tenant leaders ask HUD officials how their buildings can score passing REAC inspection scores when they know their buildings are in complete disrepair. In fact, there are multiple reports of buildings passing with flying colors, with scores as high as in the 90s, when they should score a failing grade, below 60. What’s more, tenants know that landlords will do the bare minimum of repairs in order to get a barely passing score and escape follow-up and enforcement from HUD. This is a product the federal government’s systematic defunding of HUD, leading the agency to contract inspections out to private companies.
NAHT updated its recommendations for REAC reform in 2015. Several VISTAs, led by Nehemiah Bey, Devondrick Jeffers and others, were encountering substandard properties with high REAC scores. NAHT formed a Special REAC Task Force which recommended changes in REAC’s scoring system to better respond to mold, bedbugs and other common problems ignored in REAC’s current system. NAHT has advocated for these changes at every NAHT conference and Board meeting with HUD officials since that time, led by Board leaders Geraldine Collins, Demetrius Bonner, Rachel Williams, Charlotte Delgado, Charlotte Rodgers and others.
Recently, HUD published a new notice, Notice 2018-8, regarding HUD enforcement actions for substandard properties. The new Notice implements Congressional amendments to the enforcement process in FY 2017, and replaces Notice 2015-2. The notice implements several recommendations made by NAHT tenant leaders, but also takes a few steps backwards in regards to tenant involvement when a building scores between 30 and 60.
On the plus side, the new Notice, for the first time, allows HUD to issue a Demand for Corrective Action for properties with REAC scores above 60, if there are:
- Less than 50% of possible REAC points earned in any category, particularly within units;
- Repeated inspection findings that indicate systemic deficiencies;
- Significant inspection findings that may pose health and safety risks to the tenants;
- Significant local code violations;
- Multiple tenant complaints about property condition; and/or
- Conditions observed by OAMPO staff during a site visit outside of a REAC or MOR.
This opens up an important avenue for tenant organizing and advocacy. “Multiple tenant complaints” and “significant code violations” give us an avenue to invite HUD enforcement actions. Also, if REAC scores are high but there are “systemic deficiencies” (such as mold) “within units”, HUD can issue a Demand for Corrective Action.
On the down side, HUD enforcement is now discretionary for properties with REAC scores above 30 but below 60. The previous requirement for a Compliance, Disposition and Enforcement (CDE) Plan has been dropped. Where properties score below 60, HUD can require a 100% unit survey and corrective action plan, but this is no longer required to be shared with tenants. The only Notice requirement is to share Notices of Default/Violation with tenants, but not the Survey or corrective plans. Following the FY 2017 Congressional amendment, tenant notice and participation has been downgraded. NAHT leaders will continue to fight for tenants to be included in the repairs and renovations process when their homes receive scores less than 60 but more than 30.
NAHT has long advocated for these positive changes in REAC, most recently in the NAHT Board’s October meeting with Brian Montgomery, HUD’s newly confirmed Assistant Secretary for Housing. Montgomery opened the meeting by recalling his discussions with NAHT on REAC reform in 2007, when he was previously at HUD, and that reforming REAC was one of his top priorities.
Our persistence is getting results! We will keep the heat on until REAC’s scores are brought up to date, and continue advocating for NAHT’s recommendations to involve tenants in REAC inspections.
NAHT member group Forest Cove Apartments and NAHT affiliate Housing Justice League in Atlanta, held a rally at the Forest Cove complex on Wednesday, July 18th. Tenants delivered a list of demands to the management office, which included repairs and for the tenants association to be included in the repair planning. Three NAHT board members joined in support and spoke at the march. Forest Cove Apartments is owned by Global Ministries, a notorious slumlord being forced by HUD to sell it's entire portfolio to another company. NAHT is beginning a national campaign to organize tenants in Global Ministries properties to make sure tenants voices are heard throughout this process!
By Mary Bradley, Tenant Leader at Tecumseh Road Apartments in Syracuse NY
The National Alliance of HUD Tenants meet to better understand the problems tenants are facing in their homes meaning apartment buildings, and having workshops to address how tenants can tackle these problems to solve them for the greater good of the tenants in these buildings. Representatives from HUD were present to help and learn about these issues.
NAHT also traveled to Capital Hill in Washington DC and confronted legislative Aides on issues plaguing NAHT like promises made by HUD that are being recanted.
We marched around the Martin Luther King Jr memorial and made protest on issues facing the poor people’s march and took many photos of NAHT’s plights with speeches, and banners .
The Greater Syracuse Tenants Network was front and center representing , and the Tecumseh Road Apartment Tenant Association’s president was also present.
"Schumer Lobby Visit"
"Rally at MLK Memorial
"True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice"
Sharon Sherman-Executive director of the Greater Syracuse Tenants Network
John Herman-Tenant organizer at Great Syracuse Tenants Network
Hollywood Pemberton-Tenant leader at Clinton Plaza, Syracuse NY
Mary Bradley-Tenant Leader at Tecumseh Raod Apartments
It was a wonderful trip to Washington DC, and to see all those people so eager to fight for the poor, disabled and senior citizens living in horrendous conditions that makes bullying ,harassment, and unsafe living a burden that no one should have to suffer. I personally applaud the NATIONAL ALLIANCE of HUD TENANTS .
HUD Tenant Leaders Denounce Carson Housing Bill, Demand Trump “Cease and Desist” War Against the Poor
April 26th, 2018
Elected leaders of the national US tenants union today denounced the housing bill proposed April 25 by HUD Secretary Ben Carson as a “vicious and cruel” assault on the poorest of the poor.
“Carson’s proposals will push millions of people from their homes. Carson’s plan is not about moving people to work--its about needlessly cutting people from programs that enable them to find work,” says Ed Lucas, 59, President of the National Alliance of HUD Tenants (NAHT), Marine Corp vet and director of a neighborhood jobs center, who lives in a resident-owned, HUD-assisted building in Chicago. “Millions will be displaced if these deeply cruel proposals see the light of day. Congress should reject them out of hand.”
NAHT affiliates in Boston, Atlanta, Spokane and other cities have held or are planning local actions to protest the Carson-Trump rent increase and bogus “work” requirements. Tenants, joined by the HUD employees union, delivered a giant “Cease and Desist” order to the Boston HUD office in March. A similar action is planned in Atlanta on May 1.
In line with Trump’s 2019 budget proposals, Carson’s bill proposes draconian rent increases for the 4.6 million American households who receive HUD rental assistance. The bill would raise rents for tenants below the age of 65 from 30 to 35% percent of gross income; at least triple “minimum rents” paid by the most destitute; and eliminate deductions that keep rents affordable for seniors and disabled people. Overall, rents would jump overnight an average of 32% for 4.6 million households--and an incredible 111% for HUD tenants in Puerto Rico! Close to a million low income children of the most destitute households would face homelessness, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
“Trump wants to raise rents on the poorest of the poor, in order to cut taxes for the richest of the rich,” comments Deborah Arnold, 54, a minister and community activist and NAHT Vice President from Atlanta, Georgia. “80% of HUD tenant households are led by women. We, too, demand that Congress reject Trump’s vicious assault on the women, children, elderly and disabled people who live in HUD housing.”
Carson’s bill also proposes “work requirements” for HUD rental assistance, in line with Trump’s recent Executive Order that would require people to have a job or enroll in dubious “work programs” in order to receive Medicaid, Housing Assistance and Food Stamps. NAHT leaders denounced these proposals as administratively wasteful, ineffective and punitive, especially in the absence of jobs, training and resources to make them work. Trump’s 2019 budget actually proposes to cut job training and child care programs that enable HUD tenants to keep and find work, including successful programs such as Family Self Sufficiency and Jobs Plus in Public Housing.
“Trump lives in Public Housing--the White House. Will a work requirement be imposed on him?,” asked Geraldine Collins, 63, a disabled, retired medical administrator and NAHT VP/East who lives in senior housing on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. “Congress should make Trump do something useful, rather than tweeting, playing golf, watching cable TV, and destroying the nation’s social safety net.”
Comments Rachel Williams, 62, an Army widow, minister and long time community activist in Beaumont, Texas and NAHT Board VP/South: “Adding millions to the ranks of destitute and homeless people is deeply cruel and un-American. Homeland security begins with a home!”
Founded in 1991, NAHT is the national tenants union representing 2.1 million families in privately-owned, HUD assisted multifamily housing. NAHT’s mission is to empower residents to save and improve their homes as affordable housing. Contact NAHT to locate tenant spokespeople in your city.
In its FY 2019 budget request, the Trump Administration has once again proposed radically deep cuts to the HUD budget, rent increases for millions of tenants, and bogus “work requirements” that will throw tens of thousands of people on the streets.
While Trump’s cuts for 2019 may be “dead in the water” on Capitol Hill this year, they set a dangerous marker where the Administration wants to go in the next decade. Worse, Trump’s bogus “work requirements” for Medicaid, housing assistance and Food Stamps will be pushed in legislation expected to be filed in March--and has broader support on Capitol Hill.
The elected, all-tenant NAHT Board calls on NAHT affiliates and allies to RESIST these proposals! Plan a response in your community! Some examples of what you can do:
• Line up tenant leaders for quotes in media stories about the cuts--issue a press release and call local media, to make tenant voices heard! Use the press release from the NAHT Board for quotes and messaging. Find information about how budget cuts affect your state in this state-by-state guide. Find out how much tenants’ rents will increase in your state here.
• Start a social media campaign. Post your messages to Facebook, Twitter and other social media. Coalition for Human Needs posted this useful guide for tweeting at your state's elected officials and sample tweets. Find your Senator’s Twitter handle here and your Representatives Twitter handle here. Organize Twitter users to tweet on the same day or in a specific time window using the same hashtag to get your topic “trending”. The National Low-Income Housing Coalition is recommending #handsoff as a hashtag to use across the movement.
• Tell tenant stories. NAHT is collecting and posting stories of tenants affected by cuts on its Facebook page and website. Please send quotes from tenants, the name of the building they live in, if they are a Section 8 voucher tenant and a picture to email@example.com. See example here.
• Organize a press conference at a housing development, city agency or HUD office--invite elected officials to join tenants to protest the cuts! The Mass Alliance of HUD Tenants delivered a Cease and Desist Order to Donald Trump to the HUD in Boston to protest budget proposals and rent increases to tenants. See their flyer here.
• Reach out to allies. Seniors, people with disabilities, CAP agencies, Legal Services, Food Stamp recipients, neighborhood groups and CDC’s have a direct stake in fighting the cuts. So do health care groups, trade unions, teachers and students. Peace groups can be allies fighting increases in Pentagon pork at the expense of the poor. Join with them! The Mass Peoples Budget Campaign is a good local model.
• Join other national Days of Action. The Not One Penny Coalition is sponsoring Tax Day actions on April 14. The National Low Income Housing Coalition is calling for local Days of Action in early May. Join or sponsor an action, and make sure tenants voices are heard!
• Contact your elected officials. Sign onto the letter from the Coalition for Human Needs with other groups here. CHN also created an email form for individuals to email their elected officials directly, found here.
• Organize a postcard campaign demanding your Congress people oppose cuts! Last year, New York Tenants and Neighbors and the Texas Tenants Union collected postcards to present to their elected officials. You can organize press and social media when postcards are delivered to local offices. See NAHT's postcard and phone bank tip sheet here!
For resources and messaging ideas, including sample tweets and social media posts, visit NAHT’s resource page and 2018 specific resource list. We have assembled in one place key materials compiled by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the National Housing Law Project, the National Low Income Housing Coalition, and the Coalition for Human Needs.
Keep NAHT posted of your local actions! We will post them on NAHT’s Facebook page and website.