HUD Statement regarding Spencer Marques' eviction

January 9, 2008 7:09:02 PM PST
Here is the statement from HUD regarding the eviction of Spencer Marques.Statement from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Public Affairs Office, San Francisco, regarding Mr. Spencer Marquez.

Mr. Marquez received permission to serve as a live-in aide to his disabled mother on December 4, 2000. At that time, he signed an "addendum to lease" stating that "the attendant must vacate the Unit immediately and without further notice" if the resident (his mother) vacated, surrenders or abandoned the unit, or died.

On December 4, 2000, Mr. Spencer Marquez received permission to serve as a live-in aide to his disabled mother who was a resident of Flores Gardens Apts. At that time, he signed an addendum to his mother's lease that clearly stated " the Resident shall be entitled to have a person, who is not a party to the lease, reside in the unit as an Attendant if that person is legally verified as necessary for the care of the Resident. Said Attendant's right to occupy the Resident's unit is entirely dependent upon the Attendant actually providing care to the resident. If the resident ceases to reside in the unit for any reason, including in the event of the tenant's death, the Attendant must vacate the Unit immediately and without further notice."

The Live-in aide is not a party to the lease, is not considered a resident, and most importantly, the Live-in aide's income is not included in the rent calculation.

In March 2006, the Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County contacted the management of the development where Mr. Marquez and his mother resided to state that Mr. Marquez "would like to become an official tenant in Ms. Marquez unit. Spencer understands that, as a tenant, he will be required to contribute a portion of his income toward rent."

Under this program, eligible tenants pay approximately 30% of their income toward the rent, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development provides a subsidy for the balance. HUD only provides a subsidy for tenants who have applied for a Section 8 program and found to be eligible.

Because Mr. Marquez was not an eligible tenant, HUD no longer provided the subsidy for the unit where Mr. Marquez was residing. Nevertheless, Mr. Marquez was not paying the full rent due for the unit as a courtesy of the management.

Mr. Marquez, however, did not file an application to become a tenant at that time.

In December 2006 Ms. Marquez passed away. Under the terms of the live-in attendant, Mr. Marquez should have notified the management of his mother's death. He did not do so. When asked about his mother, Mr. Marquez instead insisted that she was in the hospital. Eventually management learned that, in fact, Ms. Marquez had died in December.

Because Mr. Marquez was not an eligible tenant, HUD no longer provided the subsidy for the unit where Mr. Marquez was residing. Nevertheless, Mr. Marquez was not paying the full rent due for the unit as a courtesy of the management.

Mr. Marquez was informed that under the terms of the agreement he had signed, he had to vacate the apartment. In March 2007, on the advice of the Legal Aid Society, Mr. Marquez sought to apply for status as a tenant.

According to the management records, Mr. Marquez went to the management office on March 15, 2007 to get an application for tenant status. He was not prepared to complete the application at that time, and did not have identification or a social security card with him as required in the application process.

In May, 2007, as a result of KGO-TV's concern on behalf of Mr. Marquez, an additional avenue was pursued to provide Mr. Marquez additional time to address his situation. Mr. Marquez filed a fair housing complaint, and KGO asked if Mr. Marquez could remain in the unit while that process was undertaken.

HUD contacted the management company to ask for a hold on any eviction process, although HUD regulations could not require management to honor this request. The management company agreed to halt proceedings pending the outcome of the complaint, with the understanding that HUD would still not provide any subsidy for the cost of the unit.

In October 2007, the fair housing complaint by Mr. Marquez was dismissed and management proceeded to file a default against him requiring him to vacate the unit. Mr. Marquez completed the removal of his possessions from the unit over November 1-2.

The management, in agreeing to this extended process to allow Mr. Marquez every opportunity to apply for eligible status, and to have his claim of discrimination heard, did not receive $10,490 in subsidies that HUD would have provided if Mr. Marquez had been an eligible tenant.

For Mr. Marquez, this has meant that he has lived in a subsidized unit without paying any rent for a total of seven years. For as long as he was the eligible caregiver for his mother, this complied with HUD regulations. After her death, he was required to vacate the apartment. He did not vacate the unit, and during the period until his removal from the unit, no rent was collected from him.

HUD's mission is to provide decent, safe and sound housing for those who are eligible for HUD assistance and when vacancies become available. In the San Francisco Bay Area, there are far more potentially eligible tenants than there are available housing units. The only way to be fair, under the law, in allocating units is to establish a waiting list and ensure that tenants are eligible and adhere to the lease agreements.

Mr. Marquez' current situation is a concern to all who know him, and to all who hear of his plight. The Department and the management, as well as the Legal Aid Society, sought to provide him every opportunity over a period of several years to avoid the circumstances he now faces. He was allowed to remain in a unit set aside for eligible tenants for 10 months after it was clear that he was in fact not eligible. He was given the opportunity to apply to become an eligible tenant and did not complete the application process. He sought the assistance of community groups such as Legal Aid, as well as HUD's offices, and this assistance was provided to him at each step.

What we could not do was to fill out and complete an application for Mr. Marquez, or deem him to be eligible when he had not established his eligibility, or ignore the requirement that he signed that he would vacate the unit when he was no longer serving as the caregiver for his mother.

What we will continue to do is to ensure that eligible individuals who have applied and are on the waiting list for a unit are given due process to ensure that their place on the waiting list is respected.