Last week, a round of meetings commenced among the varying housing complexes affiliated with Community Housing. Those meetings are reportedly designed to address concerns involving the increase of rental fees which rental tenants will experience upon renewing annual leases. Tenants are being hit with a double whammy of sorts in that they will no longer be receiving rental allowances that had originally been given to offset cost of utility fees. At the same time, they are experiencing increases in rates involving sewage and waste disposal, and this combination, in some cases, will mean tenants may wind-up paying double what they have previously paid - previous reported numbers have ranged from more than $80 to more than $100 more per month. Those numbers seem rather small, but when considering a number of tenants are older, and on social security or other fixed-incomes structures germane to disability, those increases prompt certain concern.
That was made abundantly clear during a January 9 Board Meeting when more than a dozen turned-up to express concern as to how they would be impacted by the increases. One tenant, a mother to an autistic son, told Board Members, "This is a real hardship. I lay awake everynight, praying to God for an answer about what I'm supposed to do... am I going to become homeless."
She said the increases will be "absolutely devastating" and force her "to move into the car."
Myra Jean Gavin explains the hardship that will be experienced by low income tenants of Community Housing who are facing increases in fees when rental leases are renewed.
Board Chairman Richard Johnson said it was not the intention of CHR to "displace" people and advised that there were local service organizations that tenants could depend on for assistance.
Tenants went on to agree that they could receive help from groups like Friends In Service Here, but only for a period of time. One tenant said, "FISH isn't going to pay my rent every month."
Janet Firley, a tenant at Wood Haven, told the Board, "It's like the renters are being punished.... I don't see how the Board can sleep at night," said Firley. Johnson said CHR is no longer able to continue to do everything it had previously ( in terms of providing the allowance) and stressed the increases shouldn't be viewed as punitive. He said the board recognized the increases would be inconvenient.
Jean Gavin, speaking on behalf of family who is housed by CHR, said, "When you double someone's rent, you're creating a hardship, not an inconvenience. Oscar Gavin suggested that Board Members could be better informed by understanding the realities of life for low income tenants prior to making judgement that affected them.
The Board ultimately told the tenants that they would have one-on-one meetings with those most impacted to determine whether or not their were solutions to assist with their needs.
In the days that have followed, Myra Gavin says tenants have continued to discuss issues amongst themselves as "they are not convinced" that the CHR Board "fully understands or appreciates" the situation tenants are facing. Gavin says tenants may determine to take their concerns to the City should they believe their message isn't getting interpreted by CHR Board.
Meanwhile CHR is seeking a new Executive Director. Essential qualifications include: a four year college degree; ten years experience (of which five must be in a management capacity); experience in housing related programs (considered as an advantage); and experience working with and reporting to a not-for-proft board (highly desired).
The candidate should have proven skills in organizing workload and staff and setting appropriate priorities, budget and cash management, collegial working relationships, administrative and grant writing skills, public speaking and fund raising, and developing opportunities for program improvement and growth to meet the needs of current and potential clients of CHR.
Salary is based on experience and is capped at $70,000. Resumes can be submitted by email to firstname.lastname@example.org by January 31, 2012.