By Lydia Poncé
Residents of Oakwood’s 15 low-income buildings known as Holiday Venice Apartments, and community members, packed the Annex Room at Oakwood Park, Feb. 23, to hear what Carol Galante Assistant Deputy Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary, had to say about preserving their homes. These apartments are homes for mostly single working mothers, working families, and disabled seniors. The apartments have a long history of human rights struggle to keep them affordable.
Gallante, appointed by the Obama’s Administration, came to hear a panel of Venice’s best: Ollie Jones; Violetta Hudson, Vice President Holiday Tenants Association; Jataun Valentine, Actionist; Rosa Arevalo, P.O.W.E.R. Board Member; and Kendra Moore, President of Tenants’ Association.
Could the panel convince Galante to work with the 246 families to purchase the buildings from the owner, Gregory Perlman of GH Capital. Perlman is the fourth owner of Holiday Apartments.
The tenants want to purchase the complex, but need HUD to raise its subsidy per unit from $1,000 to $2,000 per month to finance the mortgage. If the tenants are unable to buy the buildings, then they want HUD to require a 55-year contract with the present owner, Perlman, to keep the buildings affordable.
Last year, Perlman was granted permission by HUD to pre-pay his current contract to HUD, an illegal transaction according to the Holiday Tenants’ lawyers. This early pre-pay by Perlman to HUD resulted in three law suits that are awaiting their day in court.
Galante told the tenants that she has only been on the job for nine months as Assistant Deputy. She said “Venice’s affordable housing issue is nothing new to me.” But she could not make a commitment on the spot that HUD would help.
Will the results of Galante’s visit to Venice be a new contract for 246 families for another 20 years? The Holiday Tenants still deserve to own their home and make a claim to their future. The struggle will no doubt continue, after all, Venice needs to keep these buildings for the Oakwood community.