Entries in Housing (3)


Florida Woman Finds Strangers Living in Her Home

ABC News(LAUDERHILL, Fla.) -- A Lauderhill, Fla., woman returned home after being away for a month to find that her keys no longer fit in her door and that strangers had moved into her house, claiming they were renting it.

Sylvia Breakenridge told ABC that it took several weeks to get the strangers -- who had apparently responded to an online rental listing -- out of her home.  Now police are trying to determine who created the rental scam.

"My keys couldn’t get in the house at all.  Then I went to the back of the house.  The window is broken in…I listened and I heard a TV and the AC is running, but nobody is supposed to be in the house,” Breakenridge said of her Sept. 7 discovery.  “I went back to the front of the house and knocked constantly for five minutes.”

Breakenridge, 51, said that somebody finally came out of the house and told her that the inhabitants were renting the home.  Breakenridge and her husband primarily live in West Palm, Fla., where they run a Jamaican restaurant, but they still float back and forth to their property in Lauderhill.

“They were sleeping on my king size bed, [using] my television, my stereo set…another queen size bed,” she said.

While some of Breakenridge’s furniture was being used, most of her possessions were gone, including picture albums of her two children, she said.

Cheryl Heath, one of the women who was living in the home, told an ABC affiliate that she responded to an advertisement on Craigslist posted by someone claiming to be an agent for “Dunbar Properties.”
Breakenridge told, however, that the lease was written out to someone named James Smith and that the receipt was for cash.

The owner said the police initially told Breakenridge she would have to get an eviction notice to remove the occupants, but a judge ruled last week that Heath had to get out of the house.

A public information officer for the Lauderhill Police Department said that police are in the process of tracking down phone records to figure out how Heath "rented" the home.  No arrests have been made.
Breakenridge said that Heath left the home last week, but many of her things are still missing.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Housing Agency Spent Thousands on Belly Dancers, Luxury Bags

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(PHILADELPHIA -- The nation's fourth-largest housing authority spent lavishly on gifts for managers and a party with belly dancers, and its executive secretly spent more than $500,000 in housing authority funds to settle sexual harassment claims, but it allegedly ignored complaints of unsanitary conditions that nearly killed a 12-year-old resident.

The excesses of the Philadelphia Housing Authority, however, are not unique. As ABC's Nightline found in a joint investigation with the Center for Public Integrity, the federal government's low-income housing programs, which cost taxpayers $26 billion a year, are plagued by theft, mismanagement and corruption at local levels, including millions spent on housing for sex offenders and dead people, and all too often fail the three million families who rely on them for a clean, safe place to live.

In Philadelphia, under the leadership of former executive director Carl Greene, the local housing authority spent $17,000 for a 2006 event, including $1,200 for a troupe of belly dancers. Photos of the event, obtained by ABC News, show Greene dancing with the exotically dressed women. A Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) spokeswoman said the event, which also included yodelers and karaoke, was a part of the housing authority's "diversity awareness" training.

The same month, a 12-year-old girl living in the city's federally-subsidized housing suffered a near-fatal asthma attack after, her mother says, poorly trained housing inspectors failed to properly check her home for dangerous black mold.

"I'm telling them over and over again that these problems are going on and nobody's fixing anything. It's like they ignored everything I said," said Angelique McKinney, the girl's mother.

Greene also used housing authority funds to buy gifts, including a $16,000 purchase from Nordstrom for $800 Tumi travel bags for himself and 19 of his top managers in 2009.

"For 12 years, 13 years he's had free reign at the housing authority, and I can't explain it," said Michael Pileggi, a former housing authority attorney who now represents former PHA employees suing Greene and the housing authority. "It appears there was no fiscal oversight."´╗┐

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Biden Unveils Home Energy Efficiency Program

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The White House announced a new federal program Tuesday designed to help Americans make their homes more energy efficient, which Vice President Joe Biden said will save consumers money and create jobs.

“We believe that retrofitting homes has the potential to save us billions of dollars. And we believe that these projects that we are announcing [Tuesday] will go a long way toward growing an industry and in the process creating good jobs for a very good public purpose,” Biden said at a Middle Class Task Force event at the White House, noting that the new initiative could create tens of thousands of jobs.

The “Recovery Through Retrofit” program will enable homeowners to get low-cost energy audits of their homes and federally insured loans to pay for improvements.

Under the new program, homeowners will receive a “Home Energy Score” that ranks their home’s efficiency on a scale of one to 10 and shows how it compares to others in the neighborhood. Trained and certified contractors will then estimate how much money a homeowner could potentially save through upgrades and will recommend improvements.

To pay for retrofitting, consumers will be eligible for up to $25,000 in low-interest, federally insured “PowerSaver” loans. The program also sets new guidelines for contractors that identify the skills needed for workers in the retrofit industry.

Several communities across the country are testing the new energy scoring system this fall before it's rolled out nationally next summer.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio´╗┐

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