Wednesday, October 29, 2003

City's housing authority sues feds

By Kevin Aldridge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority has sued the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for allegedly violating federal and local regulations by refusing to approve a demolition application for the English Woods housing project.

The housing authority claims that by delaying the application to demolish the World War II-era complex, HUD deprived the agency of federal funds that could have been used for replacement housing and units continuing to operate after the request was approved. Failure to approve the demolition also jeopardizes the safety of English Woods residents who cannot afford to move without access to relocation assistance, the lawsuit said.

CMHA is asking a federal judge to order approval of the demolition and reimburse the housing authority for all costs incurred and funds denied by the delay.

Attorneys for the housing authority filed a motion in federal court Oct. 15 asking that HUD be added as a third party to its lawsuit against the English Woods Civic Association. The filing came just two days before HUD sent a letter to CMHA rejecting a plan to raze English Woods and build single-family homes.

Susan Bailey-Newell, CMHA's in-house counsel, said HUD's denial of the plan would have no effect on the housing authority's filing. She declined to comment further, saying "the suit speaks for itself."

John Schrider, the attorney representing the English Woods Civic Association, said he couldn't predict what HUD might do. Schrider said he hopes HUD will play a positive role by coming up with a good solution for English Woods that involves renovation.

CMHA director Donald Troendle said he would not pursue renovation at English Woods because it would be too costly. The complex is riddled with such problems as failing water systems, malfunctioning heating and cooling systems and unstable hillside ground, he said.


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