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Harbor Town Senior Residence under investigation by state agency

The Ohio Housing Finance Agency is investigating Harbor Town Senior Residence in Perrysburg ahead of schedule after two complaints from residents who received unexpected eviction notices.

Staff at Harbor Town, a low-income, housing tax credit apartment complex at 7120 Lighthouse Way, improperly allowed seniors making more than the income cap to live in the complex, the agency and the company’s president said.

Once the mistake was realized, management sent eviction notices to at least two residents, who protested to the state.

Molly Moses, a spokesman for the state agency, said a standard three-year review was moved up in response to the complaints, and is still ongoing. In the meantime, eviction notices were stopped, though she is not sure if anyone was actually evicted from the 69-unit complex.

“These people were not qualified correctly by the developer,” Ms. Moses said. “They did not review their income properly.”

Miller Valentine, a Dayton-based developer that built and manages the complex, did not respond to specific questions about how unqualified individuals were allowed to move in, or how staff realized the mistake was made.

The company’s president of multifamily property management, Dave Liette, issued a statement.

“Regrettably, it has come to our attention that some of our residents’ income qualifications were not calculated correctly by our staff during the application process. Based on this, these residents may not be qualified to reside at this community, as their income at the time of move-in exceeded the maximum limits,” the statement read in part.

“We are working with the Ohio Housing Finance Agency on a solution with the best possible outcome for everyone. We have also reached out to all our residents to explain the situation and let them know we are committed to a solution that both takes care of our residents and complies with affordable housing requirements.”

Ms. Moses said the agency typically audits 20 percent of tenant files when checking housing complexes’ compliance with LIHTC rules, but at Harbor Town it will inspect all 69 tenant files and had no timeline Thursday for how long its investigation might take.

George Thomas, a senior attorney with Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, said low-income housing like Harbor Town is governed by a good cause rule, which requires a landlord to show some reason before evicting a tenant — a protection private tenants do not necessarily have.

There is not much case law that would definitively answer if this situation would constitute good cause, he said, though not complying with the income limits would jeopardize portions of Harbor Town’s tax credit. The complex receives $990,000 in federal housing tax credits annually through 2023, Ms. Moses said.

The agency is not legally mandated to assist displaced residents, she said, though it will try to assist anyone it can help.

“We try to do everything we can to make sure residents have a safe place to go,” she said.

Any finding of noncompliance would come from the Internal Revenue Service, based on information gathered by OHFA.

“OHFA’s role is limited, but they have a lot of influence,” Mr. Thomas said. “They have some space to encourage the owner to do the right thing.”

Contact Zack Lemon at zlemon@theblade.com419-724-6282 or on Twitter @zack_lemon.

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