On behalf of Texas Housers—a nonprofit advocacy organization that models solutions to the state’s critical housing and community development problems—the firm is advocating with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) to require Millennia Management Company LLC and Millennia Housing Management LTD., (“Millennia”) to maintain rental units in developments across the country “in decent, safe and sanitary condition.” Millennia is one of the largest owners and managers of project-based housing in the country, and a substantial number of its tenants are households of color.
Texas Housers began an investigation of Millennia after receiving complaints from tenants of Sandpiper Cove, a Galveston property that Millennia bought in 2015. Those complaints focused on health and safety risks that Millennia had not addressed for many years in the multi-building development that was built in 1971. HUD conducted several site inspections through its REAC program at Sandpiper Cove between 2015 and 2019 and gave it three failing scores. Among the deficiencies, HUD identified missing/inoperable smoke detectors, insect/roach infestations, plumbing leaking and clogged drains in bathrooms, kitchen cooking equipment damaged/inoperable, ceilings/walls with missing pieces and damage, and door/window damage. The persistence of poor conditions over multiple years suggests that Millennia is unable or unwilling to keep up the property with routine maintenance.
The firm has worked with other tenant advocates to expand the investigation to include several other Millennia properties across the country with repeated poor HUD inspection scores and similar health and safety for tenants, but there is little evidence that HUD has taken significant action to force Millennia to remedy those conditions. Even when HUD declares a property in default, it has not required Millennia to correct the violations and or provide relocation vouchers for tenants to move to safer properties.
In April 2022, a group of housing leaders, including the National Housing Law Project, the National Low Income Housing Coalition, Texas Housers, and more than 20 other tenant-based organizations across the country sent a letter to HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge to investigate Millennia and reform HUD’s own inspection program to provide remedies or replacement housing for residents of Millennia properties.
John Henneberger, co-director of Texas Housers, explains the importance of HUD enforcement as follows: “It is critical that HUD take action to remove landlords who cannot or will not maintain their project-based properties in decent condition for tenants. HUD has inadequate monitoring and oversight to uncover these problems and is far too slow to act to resolve them when they are brought to HUD’s attention.”
The firm is co-counseling this matter with Kate Walz and Bridget Simmons of the National Housing Law Project.
In the Media
- U.S. House Committee on Financial Services, 04.22.2022
- WABE, 04.06.2022
- Houston Chronicle, 04.06.2022