Mercedes Apartments Still in Jeopardy

TRLA attorney Linley Boone has been working with residents of Mercedes Palms to help them stay in their homes.

Low-income families in Mercedes may have one less housing resource if the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) does not allow the new owners of Mercedes Palms Apartments to maintain the property as an affordable housing complex.

Represented by Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA), many of the apartment’s residents are worried about the future of their homes.

“Living at Mercedes Palms Apartments allows many families to find decent, affordable housing on a fixed income,” said TRLA attorney Linley Boone. “But instead of investing in and maintaining the property, HUD took money and abandoned it.”

The controversy surrounding the apartments began in 2007 when HUD failed to provide rent payments for numerous low-income residents. As a result, the property was foreclosed and residents were told they needed to move because the apartments would no longer serve low-income families. In the process, HUD took $232, 974 that had been paid to make repairs to the apartments without doing any work.

Even when HUD properties face foreclosure, they must continue to serve low-income residents. In mid-2008 the property’s new owners, Pharr Plantation, Inc., agreed to maintain the complex for low-income residents with the support of HUD. But, thus far, the government agency has refused to cooperate.

“We have spent more than one million dollars to develop this community so that it remains a resource for low-income tenants,” added Randy Cleveland, attorney for Pharr Plantation. “HUD has shown no interest in working with us.”

Without cooperation from HUD, Mercedes Palms Apartments will not have the financial support it needs to keep rents low and make much-needed upgrades to the complex.

Added Boone, “We have residents who want to live there and owners who want to provide affordable housing. The only roadblock here is the government.”

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