HOUSTON - In a victory for residents suing to keep their homes at 2100 Memorial near downtown Houston, a judge issued a temporary injunction preventing the Houston Housing Authority from evicting any more tenants and slamming the HHA and its president and CEO Tory Gunsolley.
Here are answers to frequently asked questions:
Why are residents of 2100 Memorial suing the Houston Housing Authority?
Several residents of 2100 Memorial are suing the Houston Housing Authority over a Sept. 18 notice to vacate. The HHA said Hurricane Harvey flood damage made the high-rise building unsafe and unlivable. Residents said their units are habitable.
How was the property impacted?
According to a Sept. 8 report from a Houston Fire Department inspector, the building's fire safety systems were damaged and in need of immediate repair. HHA also said it's electrical transformers were destroyed and that there were mold issues.
What did the judge decide?
After a Oct. 23 hearing, the judge issued a temporary injunction preventing the HHA from evicting tenants unless it can prove the premises are unsafe. In the order Judge Daryl L. Moore questioned why instead of spending $70,000 for repairs, "HHA instead made a $250,000 interest-free loan to cover any expenses that would result from moving the residents out of their leased premises."
The judge also ordered all safe issues must be fixed, tested and inspected within 45 days.
Can residents who left in September return?
Thai Nguyen, attorney with Lone Star Legal Aid, said that will be determined on a case-by-case basis.
"A lot of the tenants left that were not a part of the lawsuit, that does not mean their leases were terminated however they're in a legal bind because they entered into a new lease agreement (with another complex). I think that if they left they should be to come back home," he said.
What is the Houston Housing Authority's response?
The HHA issued this statement to Channel 2 News:
"As Houston rebuilds and recovers from Hurricane Harvey, our top priority remains to ensure the safety and well-being of our residents. The Houston Housing Authority remains steadfast to its mission of providing safe, affordable and quality housing to low-income, elderly and disabled residents across the city.
HHA has received the judge's order and is making every effort to comply with the order. HHA remains committed to providing affordable housing and seeking support to repair throughout the City of Houston and at 2100 Memorial. For legal purposes, HHA is not at liberty to discuss specifics due to on-going litigation.
During Hurricane Harvey, seven HHA properties incurred significant damage, impacting over 950 families– including those at 2100 Memorial. With one in 10 families receiving damage to their public housing unit, HHA's focus is to provide both short and long-term solutions to fulfill its mission of improving live by providing quality, affordable housing option."
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