By Paul Rivera | WESH 2 News
WESH 2 NEWS continues to investigate affordable housing rent increases during the coronavirus pandemic.
We spoke with the Department of Housing and Urban Development and a local Congressman, both of whom had strong words for companies considering increases.
Thursday WESH 2 News told you about Catherine Simon, who lives at an apartment complex in Palm coast, managed by Concord Rents.
Congressman Michael Waltz who represents Simon and others in this situation said he did not want to pick sides in this issue, but did offer a remark to those managing properties.
“I would put that kind of back on the landlord as to why, given everything else going on right now, they chose now to pass that increase on to seniors,” Waltz said. “At the end of the day, this is their decision, but I would encourage them unless it’s absolutely critical to sustain their business right now, to re-think passing on any increases,” he said.
The company manages properties across several states like Florida and has another complex in Maitland. Some there have also received notice of a rent increase. Concord Rents initially sent WESH 2 News this statement on Thursday, in part saying:
“With regard to affordable housing rent increases, both the amount and the timing of the monthly rent increases are determined by HUD and they released this information on March 31st. We have previously communicated the estimated amount and timing of HUD’s anticipated increases to the residents who were expected to be impacted. While limiting physical contact, our teams are engaged with our residents to review their individual circumstances and also provide awareness of the enhanced unemployment benefits and other local and federal assistance that might be available.”
Friday, HUD released a statement of their own saying that the agency isn’t to blame:
“This is a property that participates in the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). These properties base their rent on the income limits that HUD publishes at this time every year per our mandate. Since this is an IRS program, HUD has no control over how rents are set. However, Secretary Carson and President Trump have strongly encouraged landlords to exercise compassion with their tenants that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This rent increase is not required or suggested by HUD and we are surprised that a property owner would be so out of step with the moment in which we are living to seek one.”
A separate notice sent by Concord Rents to renters says the company expects residents to use money, like that coming from the federal government’s stimulus check and unemployment benefits, to pay rent.
Those are two things that either have not happened yet, or are really hard to come by.
Concord Rents issued the following statement: “We recognize that we are in the midst of unprecedented times and many Florida residents have experienced economic hardship as a result of the current global pandemic.
We are thankful that not all of our residents are experiencing this economic hardship. To the extent that any of our families have had their income adversely impacted, we will continue to address their individual circumstances and accommodate them appropriately. As part of that discussion, we want to ensure that they are fully aware of the enhanced Federal benefits that might be available to them and to ensure that they have applied.”