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All but two tenants move in rental subsidy dispute.

Byline: Matt Cooper The Register-Guard

All but two of 18 elderly and disabled apartment tenants who faced possible eviction due to a dispute between a Lane County housing agency and an apartment owner have found new homes, Lane County officials said.

The Housing and Community Services Agency of Lane County stopped paying rental subsidies last week for residents at Country Club Manor in Eugene, citing contract issues with owner Max Liebreich.

The agency said Lieb reich violated his contract by charging renters a $12 monthly fee for use of an air conditioner and by charging more in rent to tenants who receive the subsidies. Liebreich could not be reached for comment Monday but he previously has rebutted the charges, saying the county erred in its interpretation of the rental contracts.

The subsidies come in the form of federal Section 8 housing assistance payments that cover about two-thirds of a low-income recipient's monthly rent. Without the subsidy, the residents would not likely have had enough money to pay the rent and would have faced possible eviction, the agency has said.

The Section 8 assistance is attached to the tenant, so if they move to another home, the subsidy goes with them.

Thirteen of the 18 affected tenants have moved into other apartments in Eugene-Springfield and three more are in the process of moving, HACSA officials Larry Abel and Bev Bjurling said Monday. The next steps for the two residents who remain at Country Club Manor are complicated by health concerns, said Bjurling, a supervisor.

Agency employees worked hard to move the tenants, and community providers and businesses offered discounts for relocation and moving services, low-interest loans for security deposits, and financial help with utility deposits, Bjurling said.

"Not one of the tenants nor their assistants has complained to us about our handling of the situation, but we have received many telephone calls thanking us for the care we have taken to provide the tenants with timely information and help with all of their questions," Bjurling said, in an e-mail last week to Abel, the agency's executive director. "It may take a village to raise a child, but the village is still there for the older members of our society."

Liebreich's brother, Howard, did not return a call for comment. Liebreich has been "somewhat cooperative" by helping residents who are staying through the end of the month with temporarily reduced rent, Abel said.

Liebreich and public housing officials have clashed before over practices at the apartment complex at 2477 Cal Young Road. In a 2007 settlement agreement between Liebreich and Oregon Housing and Community Services, Liebreich agreed not to be involved in ongoing management or inside maintenance of the apartments and not to begin eviction proceedings against tenants without first contacting the state agency.

That agreement ex-pired in April 2009 with the termination of the Liebreichs' contract with the federal Housing and Urban Development department. But under federal rules, each tenant who had received federal support under the old contract had to be offered a voucher for similar federal assistance that is run by the local housing agency, Bjurling said.

Despite his agency's differences with Liebreich, Abel said HACSA might still be obligated to work with Liebreich if HUD continues to provide Section 8 subsidies to renters in Liebreich's apartments.
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Title Annotation:Government Local; The elderly and disabled apartment residents faced eviction before new homes were found
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Sep 24, 2010
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