THE WAR ON COMMERCIAL LOW-INCOME HOUSING IN AMERICA
Death by a Thousand Cuts
(c) 2003, Mike Barkley
Low income? Can't find a place to live? This is why.
There used to be a huge industry in this country dedicated to providing
you cheap housing. You and the politicians who work for you have
systematically destroyed it. Congratulations! You're living in your
car because you succeeded so well! Yet, you still blame the people you
ran out of business. How silly you are.
And you think it's bad now? It's just begun. In the coming years you are
going to see an avalanche of homelessness as commercial low income
housing stock continues to disappear without replacement.
Operating rental housing is not for the timid. It's a quick way to meet
the worst in human behavior. Most people get out of it fairly early, and
of those who remain, they either get hard or go broke. Still, until 1986
it didn't matter because there was always someone new to step into the
Until 1986, sufficient commercial low-income rental housing was assured because
sufficient housing for everyone was assured. After 1986, all the low-income
patch programs were mere spitting in the wind because no government program
conceived could begin to make up for the loss of commercial viability of
The 1986 Tax Reform Act - imposing tax on money you may never see - even with
State and Local barriers to commercial low-income housing, until the 1986
Tax Reform Act and the subsequent (and resulting) S&L collapses, apartment
projects were constructed routinely and profitably - no matter what
mistakes were made in their design, construction, or operation, they could
be made up on tax breaks and on the sale to the next guy. This came to a
screeching halt in 1986, as if the entire industry ran into a brick wall.
It not only choked off the flow of commercial low-income housing
replacement, it drove many of the operators out of the business and
discouraged new entrants.
Depreciation periods lengthened / accelerated methods banned
Passive investment designations and limits on losses
Rental income property loss limits even if not "passive"
Interest expense limits
Taxing of preference items / alternative minimum tax
The so-called "Low-income housing credit": illustrative of the
government's failure to understand that the bulk of low-income
housing came from the two sources they were killing (unless of
course it was deliberate class warfare):
Obsolescence of the existing rental housing stock in the face of new construction
Commercially viable projects under existing tax laws and lending rules.
The subsequent collapse of the Savings & Loan Industry, followed by
stiffened rules on rental property loans - federal authorities have
made it as difficult to finance residential commercial property as
they have made it easy to finance single-family homes. They could
not make it more clear that they feel the government has a mission
to choke off the supply of commercial low-income housing.
Bulldozing apartments in Texas - 'bye 'bye, tomorrow's low-income housing
State - The California Experience
Evictions are dangerous - the longer they take, the more dangerous they are.
And of course, if you can't get them out, you either won't let them in or
you will lose your property.
Statutory Eviction limitations
Theft of property & services: "I know my rights!", as in "the right to
No "self help"
60 day notices, up from 30 days.
Procedural Eviction delays - how a procedure set at 13 days in the codes
actually takes 30 to 90 days or more
Claim of right provisions backfire, court clerks interpret it as substituted service
Delays in setting court dates versus the "5 days", etc. in the code
access to the judges; the judges endorse legalized theft, at least for awhile...
issuance of writs
The Sheriff takes his sweet time - Sheriff Baxter Dunn letter
Deposits - The Terrorists Won : many landlords walk away from damage and cleaning costs rather than fight this nosebleed
The Small-Claims Court crap shoot - what the codes say versus what the judge does.
Discriminatory law enforcement - a letter to the Manteca Bulletin
Defrauding an Inkeeper - hotels and restaurants versus apartments,
but the language is the same in the codes, go figure.
Embezzlement - when is a felony not a felony? When the victim is a
Identity Theft - how law enforcement ignores merchants defrauded by
customers with false identities
Theft of services
Trespassing vehicles - the failure of California Vehicle Code Section 22658
Abandoned vehicles - the City of Manteca shirks its duty under Vehicle Code Section 22660
The San Joaquin County District Attorney prosecutes landlords for
renting to people despite information regarding criminal history
known only to law enforcement - the ultimate Catch 22: the D.A. won't
tell us, the D.A. won't cooperate, but they will prosecute us for not
knowing what they know (and which knowledge it is illegal for us to
Rent control - the most punitive tax in America and the ultimate kiss of
death to commercial low-income rental housing, if nothing else kills it,
rent control does.
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EMBEZZLEMENT OF REAL PROPERTY
Felonies against person and property have two remedies, one civil by the
victim in the courts and the other criminal on behalf of the state. The
unlawful detention of real property, an embezzlement under California
law as it is written, is the only major felony
which is never prosecuted (at least in California) and it's also the only
one not prosecuted because the government asserts that the civil remedy
is adequate, a position victims know to be an unsupportable fiction. When
representatives of the government assert such embezzlement is not a
felony, they are parroting the ignorance they were taught or they are lying
to protect themselves against litigation. The failure to treat landlords
equally with the people who steal from them should be actionable under
Federal civil rights statutes.
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Return to Sentinel Home.
--Mike Barkley, 161 N. Sheridan Ave. #1, Manteca, CA 95336 (H) 209/823-4817
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