Residents of subsidized housing complex don't have to move after all

The residents had been told that they would have to be out by April 1.

Published: Wednesday, January 13, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 12, 2010 at 11:42 p.m.

Approximately 30 tenants of the Gainesville Housing Authority's 400 Building near downtown will not have to move for the housing authority to fulfill a federal subsidized housing requirement that the building be used for elderly housing.

Instead, the building, at 400 N.W. First Ave., will convert to elderly housing over time through attrition, the housing authority announced in a letter to residents Tuesday. When residents voluntarily move out, tenants age 62 and older will be moved in.

Gail Monahan, executive director of the GHA and the Alachua County Housing Authority, and Joe Phillips, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Atlanta regional office, both confirmed that HUD officials had decided the GHA does not have to move out tenants and, in fact, is not permitted to move out tenants in order to convert the building to elderly housing.

More detailed information from HUD was not immediately available Tuesday afternoon.

Shortly before Christmas, GHA sent out a notice to about 30 tenants stating they had to move out by April 1 because the building had to revert to its original purpose - elderly housing - in order for the GHA to comply with its HUD funding contract.

While GHA officials were confident they could find new Section 8 housing for the displaced tenants, many of the tenants grew nervous because they would not receive financial assistance with moving and because many of the subsidized apartment complexes they contacted had lengthy waiting lists.

"I'm really glad they changed their minds about it," Building 400 resident Mark Hopkins said Tuesday, "because we were really stressed out about it."

Hopkins said he has had a kidney transplant and heart surgery and that the 400 Building, where he has lived for six years, offered him close proximity to Shands at the University of Florida.

Monahan, the longtime director of the Alachua County Housing Authority, took over as director of the GHA as well in November. Last week, she said she found out the month before she took over at GHA that the 400 Building had at some point moved away from elderly housing. It's unclear when that decision was made, but it apparently was done in order to fill up the building's units.

Contact Christopher Curry at 374-5088.

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