Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Subsidized housing residents set to move out as Brooksville Housing Authority is dissolved

BROOKSVILLE — Holding his slumbering 2-year-old son as his other boy fidgeted nearby, David Ownbey pored over the paperwork that stands between him and his young family's next home.

Ownbey and his wife, Crystal, have spent their four-year marriage in Hillside Estates, one of two aging subsidized apartment complexes run by the Brooksville Housing Authority. Residents of both complexes recently learned that the federal government has approved the authority's request to sell the properties and move residents because the cost to repair the buildings far exceeds their value.

After that, the plan is to dissolve the city authority altogether.

On Thursday, the Ownbey family and about 60 of their neighbors gathered at Brooksville City Hall to learn how to apply for Section 8 housing vouchers that will help them pay for rental housing elsewhere.

"It's good we're getting out of where we are," said David Ownbey, a 28-year-old deli worker at a Spring Hill Publix store.

Still, the impending move comes with plenty of trepidation for the Ownbeys and other residents of Hillside Estates, located just east of the shuttered Rogers' Christmas House Village, and Summit Villas, a smaller complex on Dr. M.L King Jr. Boulevard.

Tenants currently pay rent on a sliding scale based on their income, and they deal directly with housing authority officials who work in an office located at Hillside Estates. The Section 8 vouchers, to be administered through the Hernando County Housing Authority, are federal dollars paid directly to landlords to subsidize rents for low-income tenants.

That means residents must now venture into the private market.

Officials from both the city and county housing authorities tried to ease residents' minds at the City Hall meeting and during an earlier gathering at Summit Villas, where most tenants are seniors, disabled or both.

Officials assured tenants that counseling services would be provided to help them find homes. Donnie Singer, the county authority's executive director, said there are plenty of rental units, ranging from apartments to single-family homes, that accept Section 8 vouchers in Hernando County.

"Some of you will have a seamless move. Others will have bumps in the road," Tommy Brooks, the Brooksville authority's executive director, told the Hillside Estates residents, many of them parents with young children. "That's why we're here, to make it as seamless as it can be."

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has approved 65 housing vouchers. That's a little more than half of the 115 vouchers required if every household in the two complexes wants one. The rest of the vouchers are expected to arrive in October.

Tenants with school-age children will go in the first wave. It's unlikely that tenants will receive their vouchers before school starts in Hernando on Aug. 20, officials said, but the goal is to get families moved as soon as possible.

The Brooksville authority will cover moving costs and probably utility deposits, Brooks said. But voucher recipients are probably on their own for some other typical up-front expenses, such as first month's rent and security deposit.

That worries some residents.

"They know we're on a limited income," said Tawanna Capel, a 34-year-old Hillside Estates tenant and mother of four who came to City Hall with her husband, Jeffery, a cook at KFC. "Where is all this money supposed to come from?"

Some tenants also were disappointed to hear about an existing Hernando County Housing Authority policy that requires voucher recipients to live in Hernando County for one year before using the voucher to move elsewhere.

Jenise Yore, a 21-year-old single mother who was laid off earlier this year, has lived at Summit Villas for about two years. Yore hoped to use the voucher in the St. Petersburg area, where she has family and the job market is better. Now she is faced with the prospect of moving twice.

"I feel stuck," Yore said.

The policy exists because Hernando County only receives a set number of vouchers from HUD each year, Singer said. Tenants can petition the county housing board for permission to move, but there has to be a compelling reason, such as proof of a job offer, he said.

The city authority doesn't have the money to demolish the buildings from which the tenants are moving, so they likely will be sold as they are, possibly at public auction.

There is a loose end that still needs to be tied up before the city authority can dissolve.

The board is waiting for HUD's blessing of a $160,000 settlement agreement approved last week with Brooksville electrician Jim Lane, who filed suit in 2008 seeking payment for work he performed at Summit Villas the previous year. Lane says he is due $220,000, plus 18 percent annual interest built into the original contract.

The authority has already racked up at least $20,000 in attorney's fees, and that figure would grow substantially if the case went to trial, said city housing board Chairman Randy Woodruff. "This seemed like the smarter use of taxpayer dollars," Woodruff said of the settlement.

Tony Marrero can be reached at [email protected]

Subsidized housing residents set to move out as Brooksville Housing Authority is dissolved 07/27/12 [Last modified: Friday, July 27, 2012 8:25pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Clearwater police: Car thief dead after owner fires gun

    Crime

    CLEARWATER — One man is dead after the owner of a car fired shots at the thieves who were stealing it Monday night, police said.

  2. Iraqi forces sweep into Kirkuk, checking Kurdish independence drive

    World

    KIRKUK, Iraq — After weeks of threats and posturing, the Iraqi government began a military assault Monday to curb the independence drive by the nation's Kurdish minority, wresting oil fields and a contested city from separatists pushing to break away from Iraq.

    Iraqi security forces patrol Monday in Tuz Khormato, about 45 miles south of Kirkuk, a disputed city that the government seized in response to last month’s Kurdish vote for independence.
  3. Trump and McConnell strive for unity amid rising tensions

    National

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump and Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, tried to convey a sense of harmony Monday after months of private feuding that threatened to undermine their party's legislative push in the coming weeks to enact a sweeping tax cut.

    President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell field questions Monday in the Rose Garden of the White House. “We have been friends for a long time,” Trump said.
  4. 'Me too': Alyssa Milano urged assault victims to tweet in solidarity. The response was massive.

    Human Interest

    Actor Alyssa Milano took to Twitter on Sunday with an idea, suggested by a friend, she said.

    Within hours of Alyssa Milano’s tweet, tweets with the words “me too” began appearing. By 3 a.m. Monday, almost 200,000 metoo tweets were published by Twitter’s count.
  5. Tampa tax shelter schemer too fat for his prison term, attorney says

    Criminal

    TAMPA — A federal judge sentenced two Bay area men to prison terms last week for peddling an offshore tax shelter scheme that cost the IRS an estimated $10 million.

    Duane Crithfield and Stephen Donaldson Sr. were sentenced to prison after marketing a fraudulent offshore tax strategy known as a "Business Protection Plan" to medical practices, offering doctors and others coverage against unlikely events such as a kidnapping.