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Public Corruption in Chester County, PA

I believe an unlikely mix of alleged drug trafficking related politicos and alleged white nationalist related politicos united to elect the infamous “Bloc of Four” in the abysmal voter turnout election of 2005. During their four year term the drug business was good again and white nationalists used Coatesville as an example on white supremacist websites like “Stormfront”. Strong community organization and support from law enforcement, in particular Chester County District Attorney Joseph W. Carroll has begun to turn our community around. The Chester County drug trafficking that I believe centers on Coatesville continues and I believe we still have public officials in place that profit from the drug sales. But the people here are amazing and continue to work against the odds to make Coatesville a good place to live.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Are you tired of Coatesville being stuck with all the Section 8 housing in Chester County? This is your chance to do something about it.

Kirby Hudson, the Acting City Manager of the City of Coatesville is giving us a chance to do something about, but WE NEED YOUR HELP!
We can get together to things like cleaning up the city. We need to show up at this meeting in a big way.
Section 8 housing assistance was designed to desegregate housing and integrate low income and middle income people to give children of all income levels a fair chance but the amount of assistance in the form of FAIR MARKET RENT is too low for anything but Coatesville in a very wealthy county like Chester County.
You see the Fair Market Rent Section 8 voucher can be used anywhere in Pennsylvania. Except that the amount is too low for just about anything but Coatesville in Chester County.
HUD will soon be announcing as part of a Section 8 Vouchers Program a National Demonstration Project in an effort to create a more accurate and fair system for setting fair market rent.

Some landlords, some call them slumlords, allow property to deteriorate and ignore codes enforcement, fines and even ignore property taxes. Municipalities are frustrated by landlords such as those. HUD, through the County Housing Authority has enforcement powers with sharper teeth. It’s called abatements or withholding back rent until the property is brought up to code. Utilizing abatements will also be discussed at this meeting. 
This meeting on April 14th with Jane Vincent the regional director of HUD is a chance for the citizens of Coatesville to create an opportunity to make a diverse Chester County out of what is now a relatively segregated Chester County.
Kirby has been laboring to represent Coatesville virtually alone in an effort to make assisted housing work in all of Chester County and not be jammed down the throat of Coatesville. He needs our help from the entire community
The flyer for the meeting is here:
This is a transcript and a recording of Kirby’s presentation:

Acting Coatesville City Manager Kirby Hudson:
“This is not only for the Council, but also for the audience. On the back table you’ll see a flyer. The flyer states that a ‘Public Meeting on Regional Opportunity’ and this is going to be a meeting with the UUD Regional Administrator. Her name is Jane Vincent.
Now many of you, probably over the last year of so have heard me talk about First Suburbs Project. In essence the First Suburbs Project is an organization which is made up of now about 25 municipalities all geared to a common goal. Most of these municipalities, if not all, are municipalities very much like Coatesville are, financially strapped.
And one of the things, or I should say a couple of items that I have tried to address are many of the same that people of Coatesville have been saying since I’ve been here, which is almost 5 years.
What I want to say before I go any further is that this meeting that we have for the HUD Regional Manager is very important. I can’t empathize that any more than that. I’m hoping that at the end my little presentation, my manager’s report, that all of you at some point can make it to the back room and there’s a signup sheet back there. Because I’d like to have almost everybody that I can get come to this meeting which is going to be Thursday April 14th it’s between 7:30 and 9:00, so it’s an evening meeting. It’s going to be in Audubon which is right next door to King of Prussia. The address and everything is on the sheet.
What I want to real quickly is I want to read to you a letter that I sent out to Mr. Bokovitz; Patrick Bokovitz Director Department of Community Development, asking him for an audience to meet with the County Commissioners. I also want to say that I’m very proud this same group of people on this little board, if I can use that word. We all met with Congressman Gerlach and we have his full support. As matter of fact I have a three page letter right here supporting everything that I have in my letter that we will be wanting support from the County Commissioners. So I am going to read it to you and you will have a better understanding of what I’m talking about.
Dear Mr. Bokovitz,
I am writing this letter for two reasons; first to express that the City of Coatesville’s support for the efforts of the Southeastern Pennsylvania First Suburbs Project and second to arrange a meeting consisting of myself a few members of the First Suburbs Project, to meet with the County Commissioners.
It is my hope that you as well as the County Commissioners at the conclusion of our meeting support are efforts to work with the City of Coatesville, HUD and to promote regional mobility fairness and balance in our region through the use of better housing policy and programs.
As you may be aware First Suburbs Project represents a coalition of municipalities, school districts, faith based organizations and other groups who are working toward the revitalization of their community. Their common agenda includes providing fair and adequate public school funding so that every child is educated to meet the demands of the Twenty First Century, rebuilding old infrastructure in our towns like sanitary and stormwater sewers roads and bridges and creating a new approach to housing policy and programs that promote regional diversity and housing opportunities with every community in our region.
Thus, a key objective of the First Suburbs Project is to change the direction of our current housing policy at every level of government to promote regional competiveness, social economic balance and diversity through the region.
The First Suburbs Project believes that HUD is responsible for playing a key role in the following future effort. It is the First Suburbs Projects understanding that HUD will soon be announcing as part of a Section 8 Vouchers Program a National Demonstration Project in an effort to create a more accurate and fair system for setting fair market rent. Better known as FMRs. As I am sure that you are aware the current system for setting FMRs has been long criticized for limiting the voucher holder’s ability to move into higher opportunity neighborhoods thus creating a tendency to steer families only into higher poverty and lower opportunity areas.
This is a major concern for the City of Coatesville as well as First Suburbs Project. The municipalities of Coatesville, Norristown, Pottstown just to mention a few; have a long history of experiencing a high concentration of vouchers within their communities. All these communities would like to see HUD make a financial commitment to adjust our FMRs that are known again as the Fair Market Value, thereby allowing and providing more options of mobility to those families enrolled in the Section 8 Program.
I am also looking for the County Commissioners leadership on two other issues. Many of the First Suburbs Project members have long standing complaints having to deal with landlords who participate in the housing voucher program and do not adequately maintain their rental units or their property. Adequate property maintenance is in the interest of everyone and will certainly have a positive impact on communities that currently are posing resistance. That has (N-I-M-B-Y) which stands for, Not In My Back Yard.
The First Suburbs Project requests that HUD via the powers of the local Housing Authority, increase its enforcement regarding HQS which stands for Housing Quality Standards by providing more property inspection and holding slum landlords to accountable for their lack of property maintenance. Section 8 families and tenants will be able to live in a more safe and clean decent and sanitary environment. This is a win, win for all.
Finally there are some absentee landlords who are delinquent on their local property taxes and fees and yet continue to receive their rental payments, their voucher payments, from HUD. It did not seem reasonable that some landlords should neglect their local tax obligation while receiving taxpayer dollars from the Federal Government.
It is my hope that the County Commissioners will also work with the City of Coatesville and the First Suburbs on these issues. I am very appreciative of the County Commissioners, of their consideration for the problem brought forward in this letter. Mr. Bokovitz, I am gratified that you and the County Commissioners may allow a small group of us to meet with the Commissioners and to ask for their support and working for the First Suburbs prior to our first scheduled meeting with HUD on April 14, 2011.
Now again, what I said and what I’m hoping what I just said makes sense. Now I’ll quickly go over it again.
Right now we have a disproportionate number of vouchers that are crammed down the necks of certain municipalities; Coatesville, PA being one of them. It’s not fair to Coatesville and it’s definitely not fair to the families that may want to move to other areas but they cannot their vouchers only make them go into certain areas because of the dollar value that’s there.
What First Suburbs is asking is that more money be put into that bank so that whereby allowing folks to move where ever they want. As opposed to be only restricted to only a certain area.
Secondly again, when you’re looking at certain properties those properties should be able to blend in with everybody else. There’s no reason why a landlord receiving top dollar for his rent and we have residents who are stuck living in properties that are not up to snuff.
In other words, when you go down the street and you see missing spindles on a railing well why can’t the landlord fix the rail. Or why do steps have to be broken. Or why does the grass have to be this high with weeds.  Or why do we have to have trash. We need to have more enforcement on property inspections.
Now I’m not talking about putting all that load on our department. The reason why I’m saying that is because yes, the Codes Department on the outside can go ahead and put all sorts of fines. But the fines are very small in comparison to a housing inspector who comes a from out of the housing authority. Because what ends up happening is that the housing authority gives that landlord a certain amount of time to fix those deficiencies. If that is not corrected then what they perform is called an abatement. What they’ll do is hold back the rent and they’ll continue to hold the rent back until those deficiencies are corrected. So there really needs to be a balance between the two, the Housing Authority as well as local codes.
And then lastly we do have absentee landlords, a lot of them and we also have some that live nearby that are just not paying their taxes. They’re going ahead, they’re still getting money from taxpayers, they’re getting money from rent and they’re not paying their taxes.
So these are things that I’m asking for support in coming to this meeting. Right now the City of Coatesville is the only municipality in the entire County that’s been going to these meetings. Or should I say me. I’m the only one and I’ve been fighting for years, now we finally got an audience. And what this audience is all about with Pottstown, Norristown and many other municipalities; they’re bringing boatloads of people to be there. And what we’re looking at is potentially a pilot program that’s going to come out of this. And only certain municipalities are going to be able to enjoy this. I want Coatesville to be one of them.
If we don’t have a strong showing those dollars and that participation may go somewhere else. So we have an opportunity to do things. We have an opportunity to make a change. And again I’m asking everybody before you leave please would you sign that back there. If you have any questions and you want more information, you know I’ll give you my cell phone number; 302-229-5200 you can ask me whatever you want.”

When the meeting was over and only a few people yet to leave the room; only three people had signed the sheet. Kirby was visibly upset at the poor response. 

We have to get a good turnout from Coatesville. This pilot program could make a tremendous difference in the quality of life in Coatesville.

Many people disparage Section 8 Vouchers. But in most cases families would be homeless without them.
The Section 8 program was to enable low income families to live seamlessly interspersed in a cosmopolitan manner among middle class families. Instead of living a segregated life in low income neighborhoods and needing to travel to another area to interact with middle class people. 

The Section 8 Voucher Program took a big hit when President Reagan’s staff made up a story about “welfare queen” that drove around in a Cadillac. That story was a total fabrication but it worked to get Reagan elected. Once elected he cut the funding for Section 8 Vouchers in half and Section 8 was never able to achieve its goal to move families out of poverty.
By Peter Dreier

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