East Bay housing project draws controversy

January 9, 2008 7:30:27 PM PST
There's a major controversy over a proposed new housing development that would displace a number of low-income residents in Dublin.

Some who live there worry because this New Year will be the last one for Dublin's Arroyo Vista Community.

"They're moving us out of here and this is the only public housing in the Tri-Valley area," says Rhenae Keyes, Arroyo Vista resident.

By November, the city wants all of Arroyo Vista's 150 units vacant so it can sell the land to two developers.

Last July, the city signed a development agreement to tear down the existing homes and build 405 new condos and apartments. 194 of those will be rented or sold as affordable units.

"So the affordable component of this new project will increase housing for low income residents by 44 units," says Mayor Janet Lockhart, Dublin.

Today, developers met with current residents to explain the new project and the city has hired a consultant to help them obtain Section 8 vouchers to help pay for new housing.

So far, 45 families have moved out of Arroyo Vista. A group of those who stayed behind have filed a lawsuit saying the city is moving too aggressively.

"There's a number of issues out there that have not been addressed in an appropriate manner," says Antone Tucker, Arroyo Vista resident.

What most concerns residents in their lawsuit is that many homes there are already boarded up, the families moved out before the final approval for the project.

"This is HUD housing. There's supposed to be a process where Housing and Urban Development says 'yes, this is a good deal.' The standard is that it has to be in the best interest of the residents," says Lisa Grief, bay Area Legal Help.

City leaders claim they have followed all state and federal laws. Beyond that, they promise current Arroyo Vista residents priority in the new project.

"The residents here pay no more than 30 percent of their income in rent. The proposal that's on the table with the development agreement would change that," says Grief.

The first hearing in the lawsuit filed by Arroyo Vista residents is set for next month in a San Francisco Federal Court.