Judge spurns HUD-approved plan for homeless at ex-military base

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Wed, 13 May 1998 02:22:49 -0700 (PDT)

FWD 2 related articles from San Antonio [TX] Express-News - Business section

FWD 1 0f 2
May 11, 1998


     By Patricia Konstam
     San Antonio [TX] Express-News Business Writer

Senior Resources, the family-run social service agency that's challenging
plans for the homeless at a redeveloped Kelly AFB, has won a round in a
Washington federal court.

U.S. District Judge Harold Greene agreed with Senior Resources'
argument the government didn't properly follow the process for allocating
surplus military property to programs for the homeless.

In a summary judgment issued May 4, the judge had harsh words for
Greater Kelly Development Corp.'s plan for the homeless.

Calling the plan "niggardly," he sent it back to the U.S. Department of
Housing and Urban Development and GKDC to be redone.

Under federal base closing laws, HUD must certify needs of the homeless
are considered in base redevelopment plans.

While Greene blasted GKDC's property allocation process for
"gamesmanship and a callous disregard for the needs of the homeless," he
didn't grant any property to Senior Resources.

He said GKDC erred when it decided Senior Resources didn't qualify as
a "representative of the homeless" and HUD was "arbitrary and
capricious" in approving a plan that didn't comply with the law.

"Thus the court is vacating HUD's approval and remanding the plan to the
agency (HUD) for action consistent with this opinion," the judge wrote.

The GKDC, which was a party to the lawsuit, received the ruling Monday
afternoon, too late to issue a response, a spokeswoman said. Officials of
the city- appointed base redevelopment agency will comment today, she

Senior Resources founder and President Patrick LaCombe -- who filed
the suit against HUD and the secretaries of defense and the Air Force in
June 1997 -- learned of the ruling from the San Antonio Express- News.
He said his Washington lawyer hadn't contacted him as of Monday

"To me, this is a victory for the homeless because the process was not
followed the way Congress intended," LaCombe said.

LaCombe said he still proposes a program at Kelly to teach construction
skills to homeless people and employ them in making components for
affordable housing.

But he said he'd need to read the court order and consult with his lawyer
before deciding what his next step would be.

"The outcome is not dictated" by the judge, said Maria Foscarinis,
executive director of the National Law Center on Homelessness and
Poverty in Washington, D.C. The center in September filed a "friend of
the court" brief in the suit on the side of Senior Resources.

"There's no outcome prescribed but to go back and comply with the law,"
Foscarinis said.

Greene -- who was in the news Monday for splitting up AT&T in 1984
and laying the groundwork for Baby Bell mergers like those proposed by
SBC Communications Inc. and Ameritech Corp. -- had scathing words
for HUD and GKDC.

"While HUD and the GKDC believe they deserve commendation for
awarding a token piece of property to the homeless, what they really
require is censure for their lack of empathy for the plight of those less
fortunate who had entitlements under the law," he wrote.

GKDC's plan is to turn over a warehouse and small apartment building at
Kelly to the city for use by agencies serving the homeless.

"Honest consideration of the needs of the homeless was easily lost in a
maze of bureaucracy and responsibility-shifting that characterized the
divvying up of Kelly AFB," Greene wrote.

He ordered "HUD and GKDC (to) work together to ensure that all
applicants (for surplus property) are treated fairly."

Greene's decision is "a strong ruling and the first ruling" interpreting a
1994 law that allows a community's economic development needs to be
balanced with those of the homeless in allocating property on closed
military bases, said Foscarinis, whose center helped write the law.

"It was a very carefully crafted law. It's not going to dictate to a
community how to reuse the bases, but it makes sure the needs of
homeless people are taken into consideration," she said.

Greene's ruling will protect the process and guide other communities in
planning base reuse without litigation, Foscarinis said.


FWD 2 of 2
San Antonio [TX] Express-News - Tuesday, May 12, 1998


     By Patricia Konstam
     Express-News Business Writer

The two organizations ordered by a federal judge to redo a plan for
serving the homeless at Kelly AFB were trying to figure out what they
must do and studying their options on Tuesday.

Both the Greater Kelly Development Corp. and the U.S. Department of
Housing and Urban Development are considering appealing the ruling by
U.S. District Judge Harold Greene, officials said.

Both said they were disappointed by Greene's decision and believe they
were fair in the way they allocated surplus Kelly property to programs for
the homeless.

"Lawyers for HUD, the Air Force, the Department of Justice and GKDC
are caucusing" to interpret the ruling and recommend a course of action,
said Paul Roberson, GKDC executive director.

"In the next week or so, we'll try to get a handle on this," he said.

It's not clear yet whether GKDC must start over from scratch in drawing
up its entire homeless-services plan or whether just the part involving
Senior Resources must be redone, Roberson and a HUD spokesman said.

Senior Resources is the small nonprofit group that the judge sided with in
ruling that needs of the homeless were inadequately considered in the
Kelly reuse plan.

The Universal City-based organization headed by Patrick LaCombe
challenged the Kelly plan in a federal suit last June against the secretaries
of HUD, defense and the Air Force. GKDC later joined in the suit.

"It's too early to speculate on what has to be done," said Alex Sachs, a
spokesman for HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo.

"We want to look at our options and we are committed to resolving the
issues related to this case and to the reuse of Kelly in as timely a manner
as possible," Sachs said.

Greene did not award any Kelly property to Senior Resources. But he did
not release his hold on 24 buildings and three tracts of land at the base.

That injunction probably won't be lifted until GKDC wins an appeal or
complies with Greene's order, Roberson said.

The hold won't interfere with immediate redevelopment of Kelly because
the Air Force is scheduled to occupy those properties until it leaves the
base in 2001, he said.

Greene's ruling will not affect existing programs for the homeless in San
Antonio, said Rolando Morales, the city Department of Community
Initiatives staffer who coordinates those services.

The two Kelly buildings -- a 12-unit apartment house and a storage
 warehouse -- and much of the equipment set aside for homeless assistance
are not expected to become available until 2001 in any case, he said.

The GKDC plan calls for the city department to distribute the property to
nonprofit organizations, but the details of how that will be done are still
being negotiated.

Agencies that regularly participate in the city's "continuum of care" for the
homeless support the way GKDC allocated property and filed a brief
siding with GKDC in the federal case.

The staff did not go to Washington to testify in person. Had they done so,
Roberson said, Greene might have acquired a better understanding of
services to the homeless in San Antonio and ruled differently.

Taking the case to the federal appeals court for the District of Columbia is
"a serious option," Roberson said.

If that is done, the judge's order would be put on hold until the case is
resolved, he added.

An appeal would add to GKDC's legal costs in the case, which already
have reached about $200,000, Roberson said.

The judge ordered the losers to pay court costs and "reasonable"
attorney's fees for Senior Resources. Roberson said he hopes HUD and
the Air Force will pick up most of that cost, if that requirement is not
overturned on appeal.


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