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EX-ADDICTS, PROGRAMS GET AWARDS FOR ANTI-DRUG EFFORTS

Author(s): Matt Bai, Globe Staff Date: April 17, 1995 Page: 24 Section: METRO It may not have been the Oscars, but the award winners at the Strand Theater in Dorchester on Saturday were coming off the performances of their lives. More than 40 recovering addicts and service providers were honored for starring and supporting roles in the struggle against substance abuse at the first-ever Boston Recovery Awards. More than 800 people turned out for the ceremony. Honorees received plaques, certificates and citations from the state House and Senate, Mayor Menino, City Council and the Congress. The awards are the creation of Pedro Munoz, 47, a recovering addict from Mattapan whose own bout with drugs and alcohol left him with kidney failure, requiring dialysis. Unable to work since going clean three years ago, Munoz devoted himself to showcasing some of the achievements of former addicts and those who helped them quit. "The purpose was to let mothers and fathers know that their children who are on drugs don't always have to be on drugs," Munoz said. "Even though they feel like their lives are wasted now, their lives may still be turned around." Beginning last August, Munoz went to meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous and gave out fliers soliciting nominees for the awards, which ranged from "Power of Example for Youth" to "Recovery's Person of the Year." He established a committee made up of 14 recovering addicts and service providers from different city neighborhoods. The committee received 500 nominations, he said. Munoz chipped in $500 of his own money to realize his dream. That amount plus a $1,000 donation from Alphonse Mourad, owner of the management company for the Mandela housing development in lower Roxbury, paid for the awards and rental of the theater. Local companies donated billboards, food, flowers and meeting space, he said, and City Councilor Gareth Saunders arranged for a free police detail. The total cost of the event and services provided would have approached $19,000, Munoz estimated. He hopes to make the awards an annual event. "A woman came up to me after and said, 'Now there's hope for my son,' " Munoz said yesterday. "If nothing else, that means something." The ceremony was attended by state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson, state Rep. Gloria Fox, city councilors Saunders and Charles Yancey and representatives from the offices of US Sen. Edward M. Kennedy and Menino. Among those honored were: Doris Bunte -- Outstanding Civic Contributions George Kenney -- AIDS Educator Nathaniel Joliey -- Exemplifying Spiritual Awareness Douglas Bell and Robert DeCoste -- Counselors of the Year Tony Ruiz -- Outstanding Social Contributions Suelin Jacques -- Person Who Displays Strength and Perseverance Rhoda Creamer -- Leadership James Sweeney -- Leadership Paul Benders -- Power of Example for Youth and Muhammad's Mosque of Islam No. 11 Recovering Person of the Year Gail Hearns -- Most Exemplifies the 24 Principles of Recovery Stephney Tucker Jr. and New Revelations -- Model for Community Service Gregory Davis -- Recovery's Person of the Year Kathern Baptists -- Recovery's Person of the Year Arthur "Chuckie" Stafford -- Soul Saving Station Church Recovering Person of the Year Anne Burns -- Saint John-Saint Hugh Parish Person Dedicated to Recovery Issues Clarence McGregor and Rev. Luis Aponte -- South End Neighborhood Church of the Emmanuel Person of the Year Rev. Edith Ross -- Greater Love Tabernacle
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PROJECTS' CRIME WOES GET S. END HEARING

Date: January 25, 1989 Page: 18 Section: METRO More than 50 tenants of two Boston housing developments met last night with police, management and city, state and federal government representatives to discuss drug and security problems in their neighborhood. James Drazen, a realty specialist with the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, told tenants HUD would hire a private security force to patrol the Grant Manor development on Washington Street in the South End. Alphonse Mourad, owner of the Mandela development across the street in Roxbury, called on police to increase their visibility in the area. Some tenants, however, were not satisfied. "We've been hearing this for 10 years," said Jacquelyn Davis of Grant Manor. Return to the home pageof The Boston Globe Online © Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company
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BRA APPROVES SALE OF APARTMENTS, BUT SOME TENANTS REMAIN OPPOSEDAuthor(s):

Joanne Ball, Globe Staff Date: December 12, 1986 Page: 27 Section: METRO The Boston Redevelopment Authority board yesterday approved the sale of Westminster-Willard Apartments in lower Roxbury, including provisions designed to protect the interests of the low-income tenants. The deal faltered several times during the nine months since the owner agreed to sell the property to landlord Edmund Shamsi for $5.5 million, in part because of longstanding tenant opposition to Shamsi and in part because of the BRA's efforts to safeguard tenant concerns. Despite conditions recently added to the sale agreement, some tenants yesterday said they plan to ask for a meeting with Mayor Flynn to urge him to reject the sale. The sale of the 274-unit development, located mainly on Washington Street, required BRA approval because it was built under the state's urban renewal plan and received special tax benefits. The mayor must approve the board's action for the transition to be completed. "He's our last chance," said tenant Anthony Lycurgus, 35, who added that he and other tenants fear the development would eventually be turned into luxury housing, forcing out the poor tenants. "The mayor has been a friend to tenants. . . . I had faith in the mayor for many years. I'm just hoping that the mayor doesn't make me lose my faith." Francis J. Costello, Flynn's press secretary, said, "The mayor will be reviewing that action and he will make a decision that will be in the best interest of the tenants in the near future." As one of the provisions of the sale, the BRA established an "affordability fund," in which money that the city won in an unrelated lawsuit will go to the tenants as rent subsidies after 1996 when federal subsidies expire or as an initial payment for converting the development into a tenant-owned cooperative. BRA director Stephen Coyle estimated that the awards from the lawsuit could amount to $2 million by 1996. The first-time payment creating the "affordability fund" will be $200,000. "The BRA vote -- and the creation of the affordability fund -- reflects the Flynn administration commitment to protecting the rights of tenants," Coyle said in a statement. "The federal government has never indicated what it might do to protect the rights of tenants who will lose . . . subsidies in future years." Other conditions of the transaction require the new owner to: - Place $488,000 in an escrow account to correct housing code violations; - Provide the BRA with an annual $200,000 letter of credit to cover any maintenance and operating deficits; - Enter an agreement with the tenants' organization for tenant management. Alphonse Mourad, the current owner, sued the BRA and the city for $7 million, alleging that the city stalled the sale for political reasons. Mourad said he was uncertain about dropping the suit, but added: "I know I'm going to seek damages. I did suffer serious damages. © Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company
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ROXBURY BUYER, SELLER BREAK OFF TALKS BRA INSISTS THAT WESTMINSTER-WILLARD NEGOTIATIONS WILL RESUME

Author(s): Joanne Ball, Globe Staff Date: December 4, 1986 Page: 32 Section: METRO The seller and proposed buyer of a Roxbury housing project left a Boston Redevelopment Authority meeting yesterday without an agreement on how to ensure that low-income residents there would not face eventual rent increases or possible displacement. But Stephen Coyle, BRA director, said he was optimistic that negotiations would resume among the parties and assured tenants of Westminster-Willard, a 274-unit development on Washington Street, that a BRA proposal could protect their interests. "We will start negotiating again," he said. "They'll come around." The tenants have opposed the sale of the apartment complex for $5.5 million to Boston landlord Edmund Shamsi because they fear he intends to convert the complex into luxury housing after 1996, when federal rent subsidies expire. The BRA must approve all transitions involving Westminster-Willard because it was built in accordance with the state's urban renewal statutes. Approval of the pending sale and attached conditions was deferred until Dec. 18. The housing complex, formerly owned by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, is adjacent to the elevated Orange Line, scheduled to be dismantled next spring. Housing advocates and city officials believe that Washington Street is ripe for the real estate speculation and gentrification that already has transformed abutting South End neighborhoods into enclaves for upper-class residents. "I plan to live there a long time," said Martha Williams, a 10-year resident who is unemployed. "There are not many places in Boston for poor people because everything is condominium." In an effort to replace the lost income after the estimated $750,000 in annual federal subsidies expire, the BRA on Tuesday offered the future owner an annual grant of $200,000 as seed money to form a trust fund. In addition, Coyle said, the BRA would help the owner obtain money from a variety of public and private sources. That way, according to Coyle, the units could remain affordable to low- and moderate-income tenants while not forcing the owner to take a financial loss. "We're serious about this," said Coyle. "If they come back with a number of dollars needed, we'll match it." Coyle argued that because the buyer and seller accepted the federal subsidies, they cannot say now that the BRA proposal is unacceptable. But Mark Witin, Shamsi's attorney, told the BRA board: "We consider no agreement settled. We thought we had a package. . . . We thought we acted in good faith." Paul Garrity, attorney for the present owner, Alphonse Mourad, also said he was displeased, even though he agreed with the social intent of keeping the units affordable. The latest proposal further delayed a final sale agreement. Mourad and Shamsi started sale proceedings last March. "It's always the next meeting that will be the final one," Garrity said. "Let the record speak for itself. We really can't do any more, sir." Mourad last May sued the BRA for $7 million, alleging in court papers that the agency, because of political reasons, was dragging its feet on approval of the sale.
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BRA OFFICIAL NAMED IN DEVELOPER'S SUIT LANDLORD ASSERTS HOUSING AIDE TRIED TO FORCE HIM INTO DEAL INVOLVING NONPROFIT GROUP

Author(s): Michael K. Frisby, Globe Staff Date: December 10, 1986 Page: 48 Section: METRO A Boston Redevelopment Authority official allegedly tried to force landlord Edmund I. Shamsi to sell an apartment building to a nonprofit organization in exchange for approval from the authority to buy the Westminster-Willard apartments in Roxbury.litical reasons." Any sale of Westminster-Willard must receive BRA approval because the original developers received special tax benefits when the 274-unit building was built. Yesterday, BRA Director Stephen Coyle declined to address the accusations made in the suit against Peter Dreier, Coyle's special assistant for housing. Coyle, however, said the agency is actively trying to find a solution to satisfy the parties in the case. The disposition of the Westminster-Willard apartments, on Washington Street, has been a controversial topic in recent months. Tenant advocates have opposed the proposed $5.5 million sale, charging that Shamsi has a record of complaints from tenants who live in his other properties around the city. According to an affidavit signed by attorney Glenn P. Frank and filed in housing court as part of the suit, Frank's law office, which represents Shamsi, was told on several occasions by Dreier, the BRA deputy director, that the BRA would not approve the sale unless several conditions were met. In the affidavit, Frank charges that Dreier listed the following conditions: - That Shamsi must agree to sell the Buckminster Apartments, at 645 Beacon St., to a nonprofit organization that would maintain the facility as a rooming house. "I have been informed by Mr. Shamsi," Frank wrote, "that not only were all offers from nonprofit corporations wholly inadequate, but also that Mr. Shamsi is not the sole owner of said premises and permission from independent third parties would be required to complete such a transaction." - That Shamsi must place the Back Bay Manor Apartments, at 75 Alphonsus St., under the control of the Boston Rent Equity Board. "This project, due to idiosyncrasies in the Boston Rent Equity Ordinance, is presently exempt from rent control and is not monitored by the Boston Rent Equity Board," Frank wrote. - That all housing code violations on any properties owed in whole or in part by Shamsi be remedied and/or corrected before an approval would be forthcoming. City officials said Dreier was out of town on business yesterday, but Francis Costello, the press secretary for Mayor Flynn, issued a statement in Dreier's defense. "If, indeed, Peter Dreier made such remarks, they evidence a concern for protecting the rights of poor people," Costello said. "If someone, lawyer or otherwise, wants to call that extortion they are guilty of a perversion of language. If city officials aren't committed to protecting the legitimate housing needs of poor people in such places as rooming houses, then who is going to do that?" Several city councilors, however, were upset by the allegations and called for more control over the BRA. District Councilor James M. Kelly (South Boston-South End-Chinatown) said the charges, if true, would indicate an "overstepping" of the role of city government and called the alleged actions "regretful." Councilor at Large Michael J. McCormack called on the BRA board of directors to pay closer attention to Dreier's activities. "I'd like to know what nonprofit group was to benefit from Dreier's efforts and what gave him the right to make those representations," said McCormack. And Councilor at Large Joseph M. Tierney, who is considering running for mayor against Flynn next year, said: "It is coercion, conspiracy, unethical and a conflict of interest." Tierney said he plans to seek City Council approval of deals made in exchange for city approval of development projects. "I will push that the City Council be told about these inside deals," he said. "They are not voluntary. They are extortion. And there are laws on the books against it." In response, Costello said: "Unlike the case of Peter Dreier, one would certainly be surprised if Tierney ever took such a position in defense of poor tenants." Coyle, meanwhile, said the BRA has pursued a policy of trying to ensure that the sale of the Westminster-Willard apartments preserves their affordability to tenants, allows for tenant review of management procedures and remains in compliance with all building and health codes. According to sources familiar with the proposed sale, the BRA board may consider a proposal to approve the sale to Shamsi at its meeting tomorrow. The BRA, sources said, may require that $480,000 be placed in escrow to pay for the repair of code violations; that a $200,000 letter of credit be set aside to finance the correction of any future violations; and that a fund be set up by the BRA to help replace federal rent subsidies that will expire in 1996. Tenant advocates, the sources said, have sought many of these conditions as safeguards against displacement.
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ROXBURY TENANTS QUESTION FUND USE SOME SAY BRA BLOCKED

CO-OPAuthor(s): Michael Grunwald, Globe Staff Date: April 19, 1995 Page: 23 Section: METRO It was named the ''Westminster-Willard Affordability Fund,'' intended ''for the sole benefit of tenants of the Project.'' It was supposed to start with $200,000 in public funds in 1986. By now it would have swelled to nearly $1 million. But the money is gone, and the Boston Redevelopment Authority says it spent all of it. And the tenants of the Westminster-Willard housing project in Roxbury, known as Mandela, never saw a dime. In fact, an internal memo shows the BRA paid $163,822 of the original $200,000 to the top-flight law firm representing the agency in its bid to force Mandela into receivership, a battle fiercely opposed by the project's tenant association. BRA officials said the situation is more complex than it appears. They said the Westminster-Willard Affordability Fund was contingent on a proposed sale of the project, and since the sale collapsed, the fund never really existed. They said the agency spent the money originally earmarked for Mandela on other affordable housing initiatives, as well as the receivership bid. Mandela tenants -- along with their landlord, longtime BRA antagonist Alphonse Mourad -- said the agency has betrayed them, exacerbating financial problems at their project and blocking their dream of a tenant-owned cooperative. "They're supposed to spend money to help us. Instead they spend money to fight us," said Rotimi Abu, 36, a taxi driver who lives at Mandela. "We are sick of these broken promises." BRA director Marisa Lago said she could not speak in depth about Mandela because her agency is involved in several legal battles over the project. But she said the agency's vote creating the fund on Dec. 11, 1986, was contingent on Mourad selling the project. She said once the sale fell through, and Mourad secured federal rent subsidies for all 276 apartments at Mandela, the BRA was relieved of any obligation to the Washington Street project. "I can understand the confusion, but that fund never truly existed," she said. "So once we felt affordable housing was assured at Westminster, we put the money into other initiatives to preserve and create affordable housing." Mourad has spent more than $1 million over the last decade on lawsuits against a host of city, state and federal agencies, and has built a reputation as a congenitally squeaky wheel. He even hired a high-powered team from Regan Communications to present his complaints about the disputed funds to the Globe. He also provided a slew of documents buttressing his case that the BRA was committed to use $200,000, plus all proceeds from an unrelated settlement with a Back Bay condominium dealer, for a fund to help subsidize rents or promote a tenant-owned cooperative at Mandela. The documents seem to indicate that the BRA voted to establish the fund with proceeds "dedicated exclusively for the Project," although the certificate of vote does permit the agency to spend the funds on other projects if Mandela secures "adequate further rent subsidies." A December 1988 letter from former BRA director Stephen Coyle confirms that the agency had decided to allocate $25,000 from the fund to help them hire a consultant to pursue a co-op. And a January 1989 letter from attorney Saul Schapiro, whose firm eventually received most of the original $200,000, said the BRA hoped Mandela would receive more than the $700,000 "already committed to the project" at that time. Mourad, who has many mortgages on the project and says he is millions of dollars in debt, said he had hoped the fund would help him sell Mandela to his tenants, ensuring permanent affordability at the project. With project-based rent subsidies under attack in Washington, he said he has no idea what will happen when his subsidy contracts expire in November 1996. "It's a real mess," he said. "The tenants are scared. They've been told there's a pool of money, and now it's gone." Lago said that if the tenants were told that money was available for them, they were misinformed. She said the BRA vote to establish the Westminster Fund was part of a regulatory agreement that was never signed. In any case, she said the BRA voted in March 1991 that proceeds from the Back Bay Restorations settlement should be "unencumbered by any prior agreement." "There was no deal," she said. "I'm very sorry if expectations were raised, but we didn't try to raise them." Lago would not break down how the Back Bay settlement money, nearly $800,000, has been spent. But she confirmed an internal BRA accounting of the original $200,000 was correct: $163,822 to the law firm of Saul Schapiro, $35,000 to other law firms, and $4,500 to State Street Trust. She said that all the payments involved affordable housing initiatives including Roxbury Crossing and Parmalee Court in Roxbury. Mourad and his new public relations team said they had never before heard the BRA claim the fund had never existed. "What planet are they on?" said George Regan, head of Regan Communications. "They're like a weather vane: They say one thing one day, another thing when the Globe calls." In any case, Lago said the BRA is still committed to helping Mandela's tenants pursue a cooperative, and the US Department of Housing is also looking for funding sources to finance a sale. The project is in decent physical condition; its financial condition is another question altogether. "We all want to go forward with a co-op, but they don't really want poor people to get their way," said Thelma Barros, 36, a Mandela resident. "We've got a lot of questions about this, and we're not hearing a lot of answers." © Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company
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CITY, STATE ATTEMPT TO OUST MANDELA PROJECT LANDLORD

Author(s): Peter S. Canellos, Globe Staff Date: September 12, 1990 Page: 33 Section: METRO In a double-barreled legal attack, the state and city yesterday filed actions seeking to oust one of Roxbury's most contentious landlords, Alfonse Mourad, charging that he skimmed $1.3 million from his Mandela housing project for personal use and forced tenants to live in unsafe apartments. The development, which is wholly owned by Mourad, owes the city $1.2 million in unpaid taxes; has accumulated a $130,000 Boston Edison bill; and is so far behind on its water and sewer payments that the city had to intervene to prevent services from being shut off. A suit filed by Attorney General James Shannon called on the Superior Court to place the project in receivership and order immediate repairs. The city moved against Mourad in Superior Court over alleged financial irregularities. The city also seeks to have the project placed in receivership. In one instance, according to the suit, Mourad's manager refused to put a screen on a high-rise window, telling a tenant it was too costly, and a 3- year-old boy later fell out and was killed. Mourad said yesterday that the death was "a pure accident" and that he had never been asked to put a screen on the window. "For the past decade, Al Mourad has received approximately $8 million in government subsidies in addition to the rent tenants pay," said Peter Dreier, housing director of the Boston Redevelopment Authority. "The question is: Where did the money go? It wasn't going for the purposes it was intended: to pay lenders, to pay taxes and operate the housing in a safe and decent way." But Mourad -- who has made enemies across the city by suing the Boston police, the BRA, the tax department and several city officials, including Dreier -- charged that the actions against him were filed for political reasons. He said that the Flynn administration is out to get him because he helps minorities and that Shannon is trying to make him a scapegoat to win attention. Shannon is running for reelection. "The timing is very peculiar," said James Frieden, Mourad's attorney. "Shannon's involved in a big splashy lawsuit right before the election. That flavors this entire case." But Shannon said yesterday that "playing the victim is his typical approach." In addition, many state and city officials said the actions against Mourad have been under way for months. According to documents provided to the BRA by Mourad's accountant, he bought the project in 1981 with a downpayment of $150,000 and a $1.2 million mortgage from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. He recovered his down payment in one year, paying himself $157,000 in income for 1982. By 1984, he refinanced the project for $2.8 million, encumbering the project with a mortgage debt it cannot now support. He retired the HUD mortgage, paid himself $948,000 in cash, and took an additional $300,000 as a personal loan, according to the documents provided by his accountant. The same year, he paid himself a salary of $113,000 and hired a management company that paid him $30,000 as a consultant. He also used tenant security deposits to obtain a personal loan of $32,500, an apparent violation of state law, and pledged insurance policies on the project as collateral for an additional personal loan of $16,000. His financial arrangements for other years are unclear, because he failed to provide a full accounting to the BRA. In a highly unusual addendum to Mourad's financial statements, his accountant, Ziner and Company, wrote: "Management has elected to omit substantially all the disclosures and the statement of cash flows required by generally accepted accounting principles. "If the omitted disclosures and statement of cash flows were included in the financial statements, they might influence the user's conclusions about the company's financial position and results of operations." Mourad yesterday acknowledged that he had transferred some funds for his personal use, but said they were used to cover legal bills and other personal costs associated with his ownership of the project. He said he has also put personal funds into the project for repairs, saying that HUD's subsidies were never sufficient to manage the project, which is located on Washington Street near the Roxbury border with the South End. "If I can show that I have given this development over and above the budget my own money, what have I done wrong?" he said. He added that he failed to pay his city taxes because of a dispute over his assessment. By coincidence, a Superior Court judge ruled against him yesterday on the tax matter. According to the attorney general, the Mandela project has repeatedly received failing grades on city and HUD inspections, used illegal means to force tenants to pay rent, failed to accommodate handicapped tenants, does not provide laundry facilities, unlawfully prevented tenants from organizing, awarded apartments based on favoritism, and retaliated against tenants who complained about conditions. "The living conditions there are such as we'd never expect anyone in Massachusetts to live in: rats, roaches, scalding water, exposed wiring -- every inhuman condition you can find is there," Shannon said. "There's a clear pattern of forcing people to live in conditions that are unsuitable in 1990 and were unsuitable in 1890." Mourad, however, said his project is in substantially better shape than comparable projects in Roxbury, and that tenants broadly support him. A random sampling of tenants yesterday revealed moderate dissatisfaction with his management of the development. A few said they supported him fully and considered him their champion. The exterior of the Mandela buildings were largely clean, with grass cut and bushes trimmed. But code violations were also apparent: a few broken windows, security doors that did not lock and broken lights. Al Denson, chief inspector for the city's Inspectional Services Department, said the interiors of the apartments were "a mixed bag, some of them immaculate but others bad, and the bad ones were real bad." Mourad pledged to continue with plans to sell the project to a group of tenants led by his paid manager, Barbara Jones, who was also named as a defendant in Shannon's suit. Mourad, who is of Lebanese descent, predicted that the tenants will continue to support him because of his fierce advocacy for black people, typified by his decision to change the name of the project from Westminster/ Willard to Mandela, during the Roxbury secession movement of the late 1980s. He had put a giant sign proclaiming MANDELA on Washington Street. "I have won my victories, no matter what Shannon does," he said. "I have my sign there, saying this is where white-lining ends. The people now have a base, a name to rally around.
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FLYNN OK'S SALE OF LOW-INCOME HOUSING UNITS IN ROXBURY

Author(s): Joanne Ball, Globe Staff Date: March 18, 1987 Page: 43 Section: METRO After months of controversy, Mayor Flynn has approved the sale of the Westminster-Willard subsidized housing development in Roxbury. The decision gives the tenants and the Boston Redevelopment Authority broad powers to monitor management of the property. Flynn's decision, made Sunday, was based on a recommendation from housing attorney Vincent P. McCarthy, whom the mayor appointed as a fact-finder in the $5.5 million sale of the 276- unit development to Boston landlord Edmund Shamsi. Westminster-Willard was built under a special urban renewal program offering tax breaks to the developers and requiring city approval of any transfer of the property. McCarthy's report, which was due Monday, recommended six conditions on the sale to Shamsi, which were approved by BRA director Stephen Coyle. These conditions, along with those approved by the BRA last December to correct code violations and improve the property, will become part of the terms of the transfer from the current owner, Alphonse Mourad, according to John Riordan, assistant director of the mayor's Office of Neighborhood Services. Riordan said the transfer is expected to be completed in the next few weeks. The mayor's decision, coming a year after Mourad and Shamsi entered into a purchase agreement, was controversial because some tenants feared Shamsi would convert the development into luxury housing. The development is located near the intersection of Washington and Northampton streets. Tenant leader Sandra Elam yesterday responded cautiously to the news of the sale. "We just have to wait and see what happens. At least if Shamsi does anything bad, they'll the city be able to take him to court on their own." A state Supreme Judicial Court decision last week on another housing matter forced the city to approve Shamsi as the owner, and approve him quickly, if the city wanted to place conditions on the sale, Riordan said. The court ruled that if a property is in foreclosure or threatened with foreclosure, the city cannot hold up a sale, and if it tries, it risks losing the power to impose conditions. Westminster-Willard, with 12 mortgages on the property, was threatened with foreclosure, according to McCarthy's report. Under the agreement, tenants have the right to enforce conditions contained within the agreement as well as the approval power of a "tenant-management plan." The agreement calls for continued, semi-annual monitoring by the BRA to determine that Shamsi is complying with all conditions set forth in the agreement. In addition, Shamsi and his partners must personally guarantee any debt that arises from operating the property as a low-income development. [ Click here for easy-print version ]Techical problems: If you have a technical problem with your account please contact Newsbank at 1-800-896-5587 or by e-mail at bostonglobe@newsbank.com. Return to the home pageof The Boston Globe Online © Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company
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ROXBURY FLYNN ASKED TO HALT APARTMENT HOUSE SALE TENANTS FEAR THEY WILL HAVE TO MOVE IF SUBSIDIES DROPPED

Author(s): Joanne Ball, Globe Staff Date: November 6, 1986 Page: 34 Section: METRO Calling the case a "bellwether indicator of the city's commitment to preventing displacement," tenants of a subsidized housing development in lower Roxbury appealed to Mayor Flynn to halt the sale of the complex. But despite tenants' contention that the proposed sale of Westminster- Willard Apartments on Washington Street could lead to their displacement, the Boston Redevelopment Authority board yesterday cleared the way for the $5.5 million sale to landlord Edmund Shamsi. The mayor did not intervene on the tenants' behalf, but stood behind the BRA's recommendation that restrictions be placed on the property so that it stay a low-income development. A tenant spokesman, however, said that recommendation "did not provide guarantees" and after the board's vote, about 20 tenants went to the mayor's office. Their request for a meeting was denied. Attempts to reach Shamsi were unsuccessful yesterday. The BRA's final vote to approve the sale is set for next month. The BRA board's action came a day after voters overwhelmingly rejected a controversial referendum that the city's predominantly minority neighborhoods secede from Boston to form a separate city to be called Mandela. Secession backers contended that without a separate city, low-income residents faced the threat of displacement. "Maybe Mandela should have gone through," tenant Ramon Villavane Jr. said, "because we're not getting what should be coming to us. "Flynn fought so hard for secession not to go through, and then to let Westminster-Willard be sold. . . .He's not doing enough." The US Department of Housing and Urban Development, which provides the rent subsidies, notified the city last week that the subsidies would continue another 10 years and that Shamsi would be approved as an acceptable landlord. Tenants fear that they will be forced to move after the subsidies expire. Michael Kane of the Boston Affordable Housing Coalition said Shamsi's proposed purchase of the property "only makes sense as a speculative investment and that's what we've been trying to say for some time. Converting the units into luxury rental housing is certainly an option. "This property is right at the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Northampton Street, under the Orange Line. . ." The elevated Orange Line is scheduled to be dismantled beginning next spring and housing advocates have criticized the city for failing to devise strict directives that would prevent property speculation along Washington Street that would drive out low-income residents and merchants. Shamsi offered to by the property from Alphonse Mourad for $5.5 million, plus the money needed to repair numerous housing code violations. Mourad bought the property from HUD in 1981 for $1.3 million. Tenants of the 275-family complex further object to Shamsi as the landlord because he allegedly harasses tenants, illegally increases rents and allows property to deteriorate. Cases are pending against him in Boston Housing Court and the Boston Rent Equity Board. "We don't want to see 300 other families go through the same things we've gone through," said Brian Clague, who lives in Shamsi's Buckminster Hotel in Kenmore Square, where tenants have filed legal complaints against Shamsi. In addition, documents Shamsi filed with HUD show that he expects a $319,863 deficit next year for Westminster-Willard. Tenant attorney Robert Bowens said an analysis of the finances projected that Shamsi would have accumulated a $1.3 million shortfall by 1992. "Maintenance would be deferred if that's the case," Bowens said, "and the low-income use restrictions are not worth the paper it's written on. Not only does the property have to be affordable, it has to be decent housing.
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FLYNN APPOINTS LAWYER TO REVIEW PROPOSAL TO SELL 276-UNIT ROXBURY HOUSING PROJECT

Author(s): Joanne Ball, Globe Staff Date: February 7, 1987 Page: 16 Section: METRO Mayor Flynn has appointed Vincent P. McCarthy, a lawyer and longtime housing advocate, as an independent "fact finder" to review the proposed sale of the Westminster-Willard apartments, a rent-subsidized housing project in lower Roxbury, a Flynn administration official said yesterday. McCarthy, a real estate lawyer in the firm of Hale & Dorr, has been directed to review all the pertinent issues and report his recommendations to Flynn by March 15, after which Flynn will make a decision. Also yesterday, the mayor scheduled a meeting for this morning with the residents to hear their views on the sale. The project was built under an urban renewal program that provided developers with tax breaks. Transfer of the property requires the approval of the Boston Redevelopment Authority and the mayor. Boston landlord Edmund Shamsi wants to buy the property for $5.5 million from Alphonse Mourad, the current owner. Flynn, who has been sued by Mourad for $10 million for holding up the sale, has moved cautiously on the transfer of the 276-unit complex in the Washington Street-Northampton Street area. "The mayor's main concern is that the long-term affordability of the project be maintained and that the conditions are livable," said Don Gillis, director of the Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Services. The meeting with the tenants at the Parkman House was called at the tenants' request, Gillis said, so the mayor can "get as much input and advice" as possible. The tenants, critical of Flynn for not meeting with them sooner, have protested the pending sale of the building to Shamsi, fearing Shamsi will convert the building into high-priced housing. At various times since Mourad signed a purchase agreement with Shamsi 11 months ago, the tenants have been asking for a meeting with the mayor. The BRA approved the sale of the project last December, including several conditions designed to keep the units priced within the means of the tenants. One meeting occurred before the BRA board approved the sale. On other occasions, however, the tenants have sat in Flynn's outer office, demanding a meeting. Sandra Elam, chairman of the tenant steering committee, said last night she was pleased about the meeting, but displeased that it was called "on very short notice" and other restrictions. "It's a residents-only meeting," she added. "We have a staff, you know. I don't like being told who I can and can't bring." McCarthy, a member of the Massachusetts Housing Partnership and a board member of the Pine Street Inn, said he will begin his work of evaluating the sale by attending today's meeting. "It's a very important project in terms of the number of units and the people who live in them. It should be maintained as low-income housing," said McCarthy. "And that will be the most important factor I will be considering. [ Click here for easy-print version ]Techical problems: If you have a technical problem with your account please contact Newsbank at 1-800-896-5587 or by e-mail at bostonglobe@newsbank.com. Return to the home pageof The Boston Globe Online © Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company
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FLYNN APPOINTS LAWYER TO REVIEW PROPOSAL TO SELL 276-UNIT ROXBURY HOUSING PROJECT

Author(s): Joanne Ball, Globe Staff Date: February 7, 1987 Page: 16 Section: METRO Mayor Flynn has appointed Vincent P. McCarthy, a lawyer and longtime housing advocate, as an independent "fact finder" to review the proposed sale of the Westminster-Willard apartments, a rent-subsidized housing project in lower Roxbury, a Flynn administration official said yesterday. McCarthy, a real estate lawyer in the firm of Hale & Dorr, has been directed to review all the pertinent issues and report his recommendations to Flynn by March 15, after which Flynn will make a decision. Also yesterday, the mayor scheduled a meeting for this morning with the residents to hear their views on the sale. The project was built under an urban renewal program that provided developers with tax breaks. Transfer of the property requires the approval of the Boston Redevelopment Authority and the mayor. Boston landlord Edmund Shamsi wants to buy the property for $5.5 million from Alphonse Mourad, the current owner. Flynn, who has been sued by Mourad for $10 million for holding up the sale, has moved cautiously on the transfer of the 276-unit complex in the Washington Street-Northampton Street area. "The mayor's main concern is that the long-term affordability of the project be maintained and that the conditions are livable," said Don Gillis, director of the Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Services. The meeting with the tenants at the Parkman House was called at the tenants' request, Gillis said, so the mayor can "get as much input and advice" as possible. The tenants, critical of Flynn for not meeting with them sooner, have protested the pending sale of the building to Shamsi, fearing Shamsi will convert the building into high-priced housing. At various times since Mourad signed a purchase agreement with Shamsi 11 months ago, the tenants have been asking for a meeting with the mayor. The BRA approved the sale of the project last December, including several conditions designed to keep the units priced within the means of the tenants. One meeting occurred before the BRA board approved the sale. On other occasions, however, the tenants have sat in Flynn's outer office, demanding a meeting. Sandra Elam, chairman of the tenant steering committee, said last night she was pleased about the meeting, but displeased that it was called "on very short notice" and other restrictions. "It's a residents-only meeting," she added. "We have a staff, you know. I don't like being told who I can and can't bring." McCarthy, a member of the Massachusetts Housing Partnership and a board member of the Pine Street Inn, said he will begin his work of evaluating the sale by attending today's meeting. "It's a very important project in terms of the number of units and the people who live in them. It should be maintained as low-income housing," said McCarthy. "And that will be the most important factor I will be considering. [ Click here for easy-print version ]Techical problems: If you have a technical problem with your account please contact Newsbank at 1-800-896-5587 or by e-mail at bostonglobe@newsbank.com. Return to the home pageof The Boston Globe Online © Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company
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MANDELA LANDLORD SUES HUD OVER ALLEGED DISCRIMINATION

Author(s): Michael Grunwald, Globe Staff Date: February 13, 1995 Page: 18 Section: METRO A Roxbury landlord has sued the US Department of Housing and Urban Development for $12 million, claiming the agency has discriminated against him for years, in part because his tenants are black and Hispanic. In a lawsuit filed in US District Court, Alphonse Mourad, a Lebanese immigrant who owns the so-called Mandela Apartments on Washington Street and has frequently sued government agencies, accuses HUD officials of driving him to the brink of bankruptcy while lavishing profits on owners of predominantly white housing developments. Ever since Mourad and his ex-partners bought the 276-unit development from HUD in 1982, he has been involved in legal battles with the city, the state and the Boston Redevelopment Authority. He now claims HUD has shortchanged him and his 1,500 tenants in an attempt to gentrify Lower Roxbury. HUD officials said they have treated Mourad as they would any other landlord with his history of code violations and said he is using high-minded rhetoric about racism as a smoke screen for private grievances. "We can argue about the history of Mandela," said Casimir Kolaski, HUD's regional housing director. "But discrimination is not a valid issue here." Mourad has always inspired mixed emotions among tenants and black leaders, with some hailing his clashes with authorities and others denouncing him as a slumlord. He is known for feisty, flamboyant gestures -- for instance, his decision to rename the Westminster-Willard Apartments for the black South African leader. He is also known for lawsuits -- against the city of Boston (for blocking a sale of Mandela), the director of the BRA (for slander) and the state Department of Public Utilities (for increasing rates). He is also fighting the attorney general, who wants Mandela put into receivership because of code violations and mismanagement. Mourad admits Mandela has problems, although even Kolaski says it is now in "decent shape." In his 35-page complaint, Mourad says those problems stem from a lack of HUD support. He says the agency has kept rent subsidies at Mandela below market levels, while approving rents as high as 170 percent of market rates at housing developments with fewer minorities. He also says HUD denied him a chance to refinance loans in order to stem losses, while refinancing loans to give other landlords multimillion dollar profits. Records confirm those claims, although HUD officials say their decisions were justified. In a two-hour interview, Mourad accused HUD officials of lying about his tax status, management rights and mortgages. He said he has lost $5.3 million at Mandela, including $1.5 million in legal fees, and said his tenants have paid the price. "They're not just screwing me, they're screwing the minority community," he said. "They want to redline Roxbury, so they play me for a sucker." Several local housing specialists expressed skepticism about the lawsuit, citing Mourad's reputation for lax management and trigger-happy litigation. But they noted HUD's reputation lacks luster as well. "The guy doesn't have a lot of credibility," said longtime housing activist Lew Finfer. "But it's not going to surprise anyone if HUD made mistakes. They've made enough in the past." In making his case, Mourad has seized on the latest HUD embarrassment, an endangered affordable housing program known as Title II. The owners of 23 Title II housing developments in Massachusetts have received more than $100 million in profits, simply for agreeing to refinance rather than prepay their HUD-insured mortgages. After reading Globe reports about Title II, Mourad obtained HUD records for four of those housing developments and found that only one of them has a minority population abov e 25 percent. Mourad says that while Title II landlords refinanced for windfall profits, HUD denied him a chance to refinance $7.5 million in debts and avoid high interest rates, even though an internal agency memorandum recommended approval in 1992. He also complains that while Title II landlords have enjoyed dramatic rent increases, Mandela's rents -- which range from $579 for a studio to $876 for a four-bedroom -- are below market rates. "Look at Grant Manor across the street," Mourad said. "Look at Roxse Homes. Look at Campfield Gardens." Kolaski said that comparing Mourad to Title II landlords makes no sense, because he is not eligible for that particular program, because he didn't have the federally insured mortgage required. Kolaski also noted that most of the tenants in Grant, Roxse and Campfield are black or Hispanic. "So much for discrimination," he said. The future of affordable housing at Mandela is up in the air. The development's 15-year rent subsidies expire in November 1996. With HUD phasing out project-based subsidies nationwide, and a bid for a tenant cooperative to buy the project falling through, low-income tenants could end up at risk no matter what happens in court. [ Click here for easy-print version ]Techical problems: If you have a technical problem with your account please contact Newsbank at 1-800-896-5587 or by e-mail at bostonglobe@newsbank.com. Return to the home pageof The Boston Globe Online © Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company
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LANDLORD WHO OWES BOSTON $1.2M SUES CITY OVER TAX-RATE SYSTEM

Author(s): Peter S. Canellos, Globe Staff Date: January 26, 1990 Page: 76 Section: METRO A Roxbury landlord who owes the city $1.2 million in taxes has filed a lawsuit against Boston contending that many low-income housing projects are being charged property taxes at a higher rate than luxury buildings. The city yesterday denied the charge. Alfonse Mourad, who owes the city dating back to 1981 on his Mandela complex in Roxbury, says in the suit, filed Nov. 17 in Suffolk Superior Court, that a city program begun in the 1960s to limit taxes on subsidized housing by setting a ceiling of $10 per $1,000 in assessed value has, since Proposition 2 1/2 took effect in 1981, had the opposite effect. The annual tax rate for luxury buildings has dipped to $8 per $1,000 in the wake of Proposition 2 1/2, Mourad alleges; by contrast, he says, low- income buildings are bound to contracts with the city that lock them in at the $10 rate. "How do you expect the people of Roxbury to be paying higher taxes than the luxury buildings downtown?" Mourad said in an interview, contending that the city is "milking" Roxbury for tax revenue while giving big developers special breaks. "How can low-income housing pay the most for taxes?" Mourad said. "I want Mayor Flynn to answer that." But Ted Jankowski, Flynn's commissioner for assessment, said the low-income housing program under which Mandela and some other projects were constructed guarantees that owners do not pay a higher rate than other apartment buildings. "The formula is somewhat complicated but there is protection to ensure that no low-income property pays any more than would be paid under traditional taxes," Jankowski said. Moreover, under the program low-income landlords are assured sufficient subsidies from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development to pay their taxes, whatever the rate. "The only issue here is that Mr. Mourad has already been given HUD subsidies to pay his taxes and he hasn't," he said. "The question is: Where has the money gone?" The city says Mourad owes $1.2 million in property taxes dating back to the first year he owned the project, 1981; he has failed to pay his mortgage and the property is under bank foreclosure; he has failed to pay water and sewer bills; and city inspectors say Mandela is one of the most poorly maintained developments in Boston. In addition, HUD spokeswoman Jacqueline Roundtree said the federal agency is investigating Mourad for failing to properly account for money given him to make repairs on the complex. Housing advocates, citing Mandela's record, declined to support his position on the tax issue. Michael Kane, director of the Boston Affordable Housing Coalition, said any abatement of taxes should be accompanied by a full investigation into Mourad's finances. "If the taxes are to be reduced, the tenants need to know that the difference won't be pocketed and will be put back into the project," Kane said. "There are millions that have been given to him that are unaccounted for. [ Click here for easy-print version ]Techical problems: If you have a technical problem with your account please contact Newsbank at 1-800-896-5587 or by e-mail at bostonglobe@newsbank.com. Return to the home pageof The Boston Globe Online © Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company
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ATTORNEY CALLING FOR LOPEZ'S OUSTER

Author(s): John Ellement, Globe Staff Date: January 31, 2003 Page: B3 Section: Metro/Region In a blistering attack on the credibility and temperament of Superior Court Judge Maria I. Lopez, the attorney for the Commission on Judicial Conduct is calling for her removal from the bench for allegedly testifying falsely under oath, verbally abusing a female prosecutor, and showing "contempt for the rule of law." In three volumes totaling 146 pages, Boston attorney Paul F. Ware Jr. said that during recent public disciplinary hearings Lopez gave "false and misleading testimony" and violated her ethical obligation "to tell the truth." "Unable to comply with the law, Judge Lopez can scarcely be expected to enforce it fairly and impartially in a manner that promotes `the integrity and independence of the judiciary,' " Ware wrote, quoting from the state's ethical code for judges. "The sanction should be the most severe authorized under the law." Neither Lopez nor her attorney, Richard Egbert, could be reached for comment yesterday. Egbert has until Feb. 17 to file a written response of his own. Ware's recommendation is just the first step on a legal path that could end with the state's highest court agreeing that Lopez should be removed from the bench. The Supreme Judicial Court also could choose a far less severe sanction, such as a reprimand, or no discipline at all. Ware's criticism of Lopez is akin to a closing argument by a prosecutor and is not a recommendation by the commission, which will come later. "At this point, the brief represents advocacy by the commission counsel," Ware said in a telephone interview yesterday, "and no more." Ware's recommendation is the latest action in the multi-layered judicial disciplinary process that grew out of Lopez's controversial sentencing of Charles "Ebony" Horton in 2000 to probation for kidnapping and sexually assaulting an 11-year-old boy. Lopez drew outrage statewide when she sentenced Horton - a transgendered individual - to probation and verbally tangled with Suffolk County prosecutors, accusing them of alerting the media to the Horton case to force her to stiffen her sentence. One entire volume of 55 pages submitted by Ware outlines instances in which Ware says Lopez lied under oath, either to the CJC or during the disciplinary hearing, about her handling of the Horton case and its fallout. Lopez's sentencing of Horton is not an issue before the CJC. But the commission alleges that she violated six ethical rules governing judicial conduct in her handling of the case and its aftermath. Ware was named by the commission to effectively act as a prosecutor during disciplinary hearings presided over by George Daher, the retired chief justice of the state Housing Court. After Egbert files his recommendation, Daher will hear closing arguments in the case Feb. 28. Daher then will make his recommendation to the CJC, which in turn may recommend a sanction to the Supreme Judicial Court. After hearing oral arguments, the SJC will make the final decision. During the hearings, which ended last month, Lopez called several Superior Court judges and veteran lawyers as character witnesses. They described her as a judge with a sharp legal mind and a willingness to help clear clogged dockets. They said she treated lawyers appearing before her with dignity and respect. Lopez, who addressed Daher at the conclusion of the hearing, said the case against her threatened judicial independence. Ware, in his filing, said that Lopez went after former Suffolk Assistant District Attorney Leora Joseph, wrongly accusing her of personally attacking the judge in remarks published in a 1999 Boston Globe column by Eileen McNamara. Ware also wrote that Lopez demeaned Joseph, telling the prosecutor she "belongs in the suburbs," instead of handling criminal cases in the city. Lopez's comments toward Joseph would have been immediately considered improper bias if spoken by a male judge, Ware wrote. Ware also asserted that Lopez violated ethical rules when she enlisted Horton's defense attorney and William Leahy, chief of the Committee for Public Counsel Services, to defend her sentence publicly. Ware wrote that Lopez should not have had any private contact with Horton's defense team because his case was alive legally while he was on probation. Ware also excoriated her for contacting a Boston police detective, a potential witness in the Horton case, and sharing the detective's beeper number with Joan Kenney, the court system's spokeswoman.
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ROXBURY TENANTS PROTEST, BACK LANDLORD

Author(s): Maria Sacchetti, Contributing Reporter Date: August 15, 1990 Page: 51 Section: METRO Nearly 100 tenants from the Mandela housing development in Roxbury demonstrated at the state Department of Public Health and the State House yesterday after the apartment owner, Alphonse Mourad, said the state was trying to evict them. The tenants were bused from the Washington Street development to the Public , Health Department on Tremont Street to "show support" for Mourad at a hearing to discuss alleged sanitary code violations in four of the 267 units. But several tenants said they had requested the inspection and that the protest was a "trick." Some tenants and others claimed Mourad played on the tenants' fears of homelessness to garner their support. Mourad, who requested the hearing, asserted the investigation by Attorney General James Shannon was part of a conspiracy to oust him and his 1,500 residents, most of whom are black or Hispanic. However, after the tenants left for a rally at the State House, Mourad agreed to make "reasonable repairs," his lawyer, Stephen Salon, said. Before the 11 a.m. hearing, building managers issued a press release from Mourad and "the tenants" alleging the city wants to force a foreclosure and build new housing for whites on the property. Mourad has filed several lawsuits against the city, including one charging lack of police protection in the area, Salon said. Shannon "wants to hang a slumlord and get a little publicity," Mourad said at the hearing. "That's why the whole city's out to crucify Al Mourad." But Van Dunn, deputy commissioner of DPH, said the state was simply doing its job. Dan Sheehan, administrative assistant for the Boston Inspectional Services Department, said the city had previously investigated complaints in the complex but was not involved in the current investigation. Priscilla Fox, attorney for DPH, said an inspection showed mice and rat infestation, doors hanging off cabinets, tiles falling from walls, missing window screens, "scalding" hot water, and faulty ventilation devices. After listening to the list of violations, several of the tenants, including those protesting, said the problems exist. © Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company
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MANDELA COMPLEX MAY GO TO AUCTION MORTGAGE HOLDER BEGINS FORCLOSURE

Author(s): Geeta Anand, Globe Staff Date: September 7, 1995 Page: 27 Section: METRO Affordable rents for hundreds of tenants at the Mandela Apartments may be threatened by a mortgage holder's move to foreclose on the federally subsidized housing complex in Roxbury. The decision to foreclose on the financially troubled development was made by Judith Moriarty and Mario Nicosia, trustees of L & N First Mortgage Realty Trust, which owns a $600,000 note on the complex. The trust is one of three mortgage holders on the property. The principal owner of the apartment building is Alphonse Mourad of Watertown, who for years has been embroiled in a financial battle with the city and state. Unless an agreement is reached among Mourad, the mortgage holders, and city and federal housing officials, the complex will be auctioned on Sept. 28. What would happen to the 276 tenants is unclear. "There's families living here and schools have just started and we need stability," resident Thelma Barros said yesterday, asking: "If we go into foreclosure, would we be protected?" In response to the foreclosure initiative, Mary Lou Crane, the regional director of the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, said her agency was investigating whether the subsidies could be given to another party. "We're hopeful we can transfer the subsidy," she said, adding that she was not yet sure it was possible. So far, no new potential owner has been mentioned. Councilor at Large Richard Iannella, who has been been trying to mediate Mourad's longstanding financial disputes with the city, said the council would try to help the tenants, but he offered no specific plans yesterday. Mourad, who was unavailable for comment last night, has been locked in a decade-long battle with the Boston Redevelopment Agency, which he has blamed for his financial woes. Officials said he has spent more than $1 million in lawsuits against the city, state and federal governments. BRA officials insist Mourad's troubles are of his own making and the lawsuits are frivolous. Since he bought the apartment complex from HUD for $1.4 million in 1981, Mourad has taken out more than $3 million in mortgages and notes on the property, according to a 1993 audit and information provided by city officials. In his most recent dispute with the BRA, he hired a high-powered public relations team from Regan Communications and rallied Mandela tenants. He said the city agency pledged $200,000 to turn the apartment building into a tenant- owned cooperative nearly 10 years ago but has never handed over the cash. City officials deny the allegation. Because they are the third mortgage holders on the property, Moriarty and Nicosia will not receive the money they are owed until the government and the first two mortgage holders are paid. Roger J.F. Lehrberg, the lawyer representing Moriarty and Nicosia, said his clients decided to start foreclosure because of the owner's mounting debts. "And my clients' note has been due for a substantial period of time -- for a number of years," he said. According to audit papers signed by Mourad, Commonwealth Mortgage has the first mortgage, which is worth $1.9 million, and Winter Hill Savings has the second one, at $686,543.
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MANDELA OWNER SET TO LEAVE AFTER LONG, EXPENSIVE RIDE

Author(s): Michael Grunwald, Globe Staff Date: April 1, 1996 Page: 1 Section: Metro Alphonse Mourad has always insisted that powerful forces were out to get rid of him. Today in bankruptcy court, they may finally succeed. Mourad, a Lebanese immigrant who has owned the Mandela Apartments in Roxbury since 1981, has raged for years about a vast racial conspiracy against him and his black and Hispanic tenants. Now a federal judge is expected to assign the 276-unit subsidized housing development to a trustee, bringing down the curtain on one of Boston's longest-running dramas Court records in the case cast considerable doubt on Mourad's claims of victimhood, which have been echoed for years by Mandela tenant leaders but bitterly disputed by public officials and housing activists. As the development has plunged deeper and deeper into debt, the records show, Mourad has taken more and more of its money for himself. According to a report by an independent examiner appointed by the court, Mourad paid himself $923,000 in project funds last year, and paid another $250,000 to relatives. That was on top of $3.9 million Mourad already owed the failing development. That does not include more than $1 million in management fees Mourad has paid himself since 1987 or the Lexus he has leased with Mandela's money. In an interview, Mourad said his own "sloppy accounting" has made the figures look worse than they are. He said he has taken only about $120,000 a year for himself, plus $1.6 million for his endless legal battles against the city, the state, the federal government, the utilities, the banks and others he says are conspiring to displace his 1,500 tenants and gentrify Lower Roxbury. With some justification, he also points out that Mandela is in far better physical shape than neighboring developments, despite receiving less federal support. In any case, even Mourad admits his 15-year battle is coming to an end. At 50, he plans to return to the Middle East and start over. "So the system wins again," said Mourad, who renamed the development in 1987 in honor of the Roxbury secession movement known as Mandela. "I'm very disappointed in America. . . . I never thought there would be so much corruption here." But examiner Alan Braunstein's report and other records appear to support allegations against Mourad by the Boston Redevelopment Authority, the state Department of Revenue and other creditors. Basically, they document that Mourad drained cash from Mandela, even as the development staggered under a huge burden of debt. Meanwhile, a long line of creditors, including banks, private lenders, lawyers, contractors, accountants, utilities, friends and the state, have been left in the lurch. Mourad has secured more than a dozen mortgages on Mandela, records show, and he has sued public agencies more than a dozen times. His company, V & M Management, paid no taxes on Mandela from 1986 until 1995, and owes the state nearly $4 million. Overall, the development has an estimated $10 million in debts, yet Mourad still managed to write himself 248 checks last year for nearly $1 million, in what the BRA and state Department of Revenue consider a violation of state laws. "That's like one check for every business day of the year," said Thomas O'Malley, a city official who monitored Mandela for the BRA for several years. "He just laughs all the way to the bank. I have never seen anything like it." Mourad borrowed money to buy the project from the federal government in 1981. His was not the high bid, but it was chosen because Mourad's partners were minorities. Those partners quit once Mourad secured a $19 million contract for federal rent subsidies. Yet Mourad said he had been swindled into making the deal. It was the start of a pattern: Mourad working the system while fighting the system. He says government agencies have victimized him all along, exaggerating his tax liability, tricking him into prepaying a federally subsidized mortgage, blocking an attempted sale, all at a cost of millions of dollars. He says it was all a plot to force the project into bankruptcy, part of a larger plan to drive blacks and Hispanics out of a poor neighborhood in a prime location. For years, Mourad swore he would never declare bankruptcy. But he finally relented in January, hours before a creditor was to foreclose on the development. "You'll see: I'll come back in the year 2000, and this area will be all gentrified," said Mourad, who says he has spent $400,000 of his own money on a health clinic and other tenant services. "I'll stop here for cappuccino." Officials at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development say Mourad has done a decent job maintaining the development in recent years, despite being underfunded ever since he prepaid his HUD mortgage. But they note that by prepaying that mortgage, Mourad escaped federal financial oversight. Judging from the court records, that may have come in handy for him. "Laws that apply to everyone else don't seem to apply to him," said Saul Schapiro, an attorney for the BRA. "Nobody knows where the money goes." Mourad said that most of the money went back into the development, but that he failed to document it because he says he was "burned out" from his frequent court appearances. His latest attorney, Harold Murphy, said the checks Mourad wrote himself over the last year were just a way to "move money around." "I can tell you this: I didn't put a million dollars in my pocket," Mourad said. "Frankly, if I had a million dollars, I'd be out of here." The question now is what will happen to Mandela's tenants. The subsidies that ensure low rents at the project expire in November. A tenant cooperative is eager to take over the complex, but it is not clear who would finance such a deal. Mourad, who says he supports a tenant buyout but has never closed a deal, will lose control over Mandela's destiny if a trustee is appointed. In the past, tenant leaders have presented a united front in support of Mourad, and many still echo his rhetoric about "backroom deals." But some residents are beginning to wonder whether their interests are the same as their landlord's. "We're not tied to Al Mourad," said Glenn Hall, secretary of the tenant board. "It's not about him anymore. It's about tenant ownership. It's about our piece of the American Dream © Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company
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OWENS AND SOME MANDELA TENANTS DENOUNCE SUITS AGAINST LANDLORD

Author(s): Adrian Walker, Contributing Reporter Date: September 13, 1990 Page: 51 Section: METRO About a dozen tenants from the Mandela Apartments in the South End yesterday denounced city and state lawsuits against the owner as politically motivated and vowed to continue their efforts to turn the property into a cooperative. Alfonse Mourad, one of the city's most controversial landlords, is the target of lawsuits that seek to place the housing project into receivership. But he received support from some longtime tenants and the area's state senator. Sen. Bill Owens, a Democrat facing a primary election next week, joined the group of tenants in criticizing Attorney General James Shannon, who filed the state's action. "The attorney general is again misguided in his actions," Owens said. "This display of concern for the people is mere political opportunism. This petty game will hurt the residents of Mandela." The suits allege that Mourad diverted $1.3 million in federal funds for his own use. The city's suit is based on claims that he owes more than $1 million in back property taxes for the privately owned, federally subsidized project, whose residents are negotiating to turn the property into moderate-income co- ops. Those residents said yesterday they believe the development's condition has been grossly exaggerated and worried that receivership would be a first step in uprooting them. "If Mr. Shannon can't come up with anything to do than this, the state should discontinue that office," said Barbara Jones, manager of the property. "He should have better things to do." Residents said the Mandela Apartments have been the subject of numerous recent city inspections, but said it is in good condition. "I have no problems with the management," said Minnie Pearl, who has lived in the complex since 1973, the year it opened. "I wouldn't want to change management -- it's like a family here." Some residents who did not attend the news conference felt otherwise. "What they say about the rats and roaches -- that's true," said one resident, who asked not to be named. But Jones, the manager, said an exterminator regularly checks the apartments, adding that the pests and rodents are not the fault of management. "When Jesus comes, he's gonna find rats and roaches in Boston," Jones said. "We have an exterminator but the same people complaining don't let them in. © Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company
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IN THE TENANTS' INTERESTS

Date: October 9, 1986 Page: 14 Section: EDITORIAL PAGE Continued housing for 276 families at the Westminster/Willard Place development in lower Roxbury is at risk because the landlord wants to sell the property to another private owner. City and federal government officials should protect the substantial public investment in this property by giving priority to the long-term interests of the tenants. Westminster/Willard Place was built in an urban renewal zone during the early 1970s with the help of a property tax break and federal housing subsidies. When the current owner purchased the property from HUD in 1981, the federal government awarded a 15-year Section 8 agreement that calls for the federal government to pay the difference between the rent generated by 30 percent of tenants' incomes and operating expenses. Despite this subsidy, the landlords' creditors are threatening to foreclose. The owner failed to pay $473,000 in property taxes between 1982 and 1985 and let the buildings deteriorate. Repairs estimated to cost $309,000 are needed to bring the property into compliance with health and safety codes. The tenants are understandably uneasy about the sale of their homes. The prospective owner has offered to pay more than four times the 1981 sale price. Increasing property values in the neighborhood make the project a potential target for conversion to condominiums or luxury rental housing. HUD must do more than guarantee that the Section 8 subsidy agreement remain in place. The recent history of this project shows that the federal government must be far more vigilant in overseeing the management and maintenance of subsidized housing units. The Reagan administration prefers to keep such properties in private ownership, even though that may not be consistent with the long-term interests of low-income tenants. The Boston Redevelopment Authority should help the tenants find alternatives that would keep this property safe and affordable for low-income families. © Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company
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IN THE TENANTS' INTERESTS

Date: October 9, 1986 Page: 14 Section: EDITORIAL PAGE Continued housing for 276 families at the Westminster/Willard Place development in lower Roxbury is at risk because the landlord wants to sell the property to another private owner. City and federal government officials should protect the substantial public investment in this property by giving priority to the long-term interests of the tenants. Westminster/Willard Place was built in an urban renewal zone during the early 1970s with the help of a property tax break and federal housing subsidies. When the current owner purchased the property from HUD in 1981, the federal government awarded a 15-year Section 8 agreement that calls for the federal government to pay the difference between the rent generated by 30 percent of tenants' incomes and operating expenses. Despite this subsidy, the landlords' creditors are threatening to foreclose. The owner failed to pay $473,000 in property taxes between 1982 and 1985 and let the buildings deteriorate. Repairs estimated to cost $309,000 are needed to bring the property into compliance with health and safety codes. The tenants are understandably uneasy about the sale of their homes. The prospective owner has offered to pay more than four times the 1981 sale price. Increasing property values in the neighborhood make the project a potential target for conversion to condominiums or luxury rental housing. HUD must do more than guarantee that the Section 8 subsidy agreement remain in place. The recent history of this project shows that the federal government must be far more vigilant in overseeing the management and maintenance of subsidized housing units. The Reagan administration prefers to keep such properties in private ownership, even though that may not be consistent with the long-term interests of low-income tenants. The Boston Redevelopment Authority should help the tenants find alternatives that would keep this property safe and affordable for low-income families. [ Click here for easy-print version ] © Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company
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ROXBURY RESIDENTS VENT FRUSTRATION BY RENAMING COMPLEX 'MANDELA'

Author(s): Jim Gomez, Contributing Reporter Date: July 12, 1987 Page: 35 Section: METRO Residents of a Roxbury housing development decided that the best way to show their frustration with City Hall over the project's impending change of ownership was to throw a "party of emancipation" and announce the new name for the complex: Mandela Development. Yesterday, an estimated 1,000 residents of the 276-unit development, located a stone's throw from the abandoned elevated Orange Line, gathered under a bright yellow-and-white tent for an afternoon of hot dogs, music, and mutual support. Tenants said they were temporarily putting aside their fears of gentrification along the Washington Street corridor and their charges that for years they have not had proper city services. For most tenants, it was a time to be heated not by housing issues but by the summer sun. "We've been sold up the river so many times here," said Barbara Jones, a resident and organizer of the party. "But today, we just want to have a good time." As children raced by on scooters and bicycles, the parents said they would forget for one day that the project, formerly called the Westminster Willard Development, would be sold for the second time in six years. Many of the residents carried pastel-colored balloons and sported gray T- shirts that bore one word: MANDELA, for Nelson Mandela, the imprisoned South African opposition leader against apartheid. "It's a good time to meet all the neighbors, and the music's good," said Sherry Vanderhorst as she wrestled with her 2-year-old son, Arrey. "You want to buy a baby?" she asked, smiling. Nearby stood Andrew Jones, who organized a movement last year to put a controversial nonbinding referendum on the November ballot asking voters if they wanted to reincorporate a large segment of Boston into a new city called Mandela. "This act of changing the name of the development is more principle than politics," Jones said. "These people are talking about empowerment over their lives. And with empowerment comes responsibility, which brings change." But the party and the name change drew criticism from neighbors as close as a block away. Garland Devan, a member of United Emmanuel Holiness Church, questioned the wisdom of using the name Mandela for the development. "It seems to enforce the idea of separatism," said Devan, to the nods of fellow church members who were manning a yard sale. According to Barbara Jones, who is a board member of the development's Tuckerman Tenant Union, tenants have fought for more than a year to prevent the sale of the buildings they occupy to developer Edmund Shamsi. The sale was negotiated through the Boston Redevelopment Authority, and residents charge the agency lied to them about the proceedings. The name of the project was changed with the approval of the current owner, Alfonse Mourad. Mourad, who bought the 22-building complex from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, was forced to put the property up for sale through the BRA after he encountered tax problems. The BRA has negotiated a purchase-and-sale agreement with Shamsi without Mourad's knowledge, he charges. BRA officials could not be reached for comment yesterday on the charges. "When we found out that Mourad was having tax problems and was going to sell the place, we were devastated," said Barbara Jones. She said tenants rallied around him because of the positive changes he helped bring about. They lobbied city officials, including BRA director Stephen Coyle and Don Gillis, director of the Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Services. In a phone conversation with BRA spokesman Peter Drier in September, Jones said, she received an assurance that the property would not be sold to Shamsi, whom she says tenants do not trust. Yesterday, as Big Bird and the Cookie Monster mingled with the young, smiling faces, petitions demanding Coyle's resignation were quietly passed around. "Even though we are mostly poor, we should have a say in the property. We are not stupid, and we should have a say so in this," said Barbara Jones. [ Click here for easy-print version ] © Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company
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COUNCILORS VOW PROBE OF BRA FUND USE

Author(s): Michael Grunwald, Globe Staff Date: April 20, 1995 Page: 60 Section: METRO Two city councilors yesterday vowed to hold public hearings on the Boston Redevelopment Authority's use of almost $1 million that tenants of a Roxbury housing project say was meant for them. As outraged tenants of the Westminster-Willard development, known as Mandela, held a news conference to denounce the BRA and demand an investigation, councilors Richard Iannella and Gareth Saunders said they were determined to find out what happened to the disputed funds. "There is a serious, serious cloud hanging over the BRA right now," said Iannella, chairman of the council's committee on planning and economic development. "We need to take action to see whether the BRA misused this money." Mandela tenants and their landlord, Alphonse Mourad, contend the BRA was obligated to spend $200,000 plus the proceeds from a settlement with a Back Bay condominium dealer at the project. In yesterday's Globe, Mourad cited a December 1986 board vote establishing the Westminster-Willard Fund for the sole benefit of Mandela tenants. But the BRA insists the fund never existed, saying the vote was contingent on Mourad's selling the development to a private buyer who had threatened to convert to market-rent housing. BRA director Marisa Lago told the Globe on Tuesday that the fund was originally conceived to ensure that Mandela would remain affordable, and that once Mourad secured federal rent subsidies for all 276 apartments at Mandela, the agency was free to use the money on other affordable housing initiatives. "The reason we considered making a fund was that Mourad was going to sell," said BRA spokeswoman Kelly Rice Quinn. "The sale never went through, and Westminster-Willard is now 100 percent [subsidized]. Affordability is ensured at that site." But in November 1996, Mandela's subsidy contracts will expire, and affordability may be at risk. At Mandela yesterday, about 30 tenants held a rally to accuse the BRA of blocking their dream of an affordable, tenant-owned cooperative. They said they were furious about a Globe report that the BRA spent almost all of the original $200,000 on attorney's fees, and even angrier that $163,822 went to a firm whose services to the BRA have included a bid to force Mandela into receivership. "That is our money," said tenant activist Mary Lycurgus. "We need it for our children." Saunders, a Roxbury councilor, said the dispute over Mandela indicates a larger problem of a lack of oversight of the BRA. Saunders said he wants to know why the agency now operates at a deficit. © Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company
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MANDELA TENANTS PROPOSE BUYOUT

Author(s): John Ellement, Globe Staff Date: August 17, 1994 Page: 44 Section: METRO As a Suffolk Superior Court judge was being asked yesterday to approve a legal step that could place the Mandela apartments in Roxbury into receivership, a key federal housing agency said it will meet tomorrow with tenants eager to buy the subsidized apartment building. The two actions unfolded during a hearing before Judge Catherine White, who was asked by Assistant Attorney General Leslie Greer to find that Mandela's owner, Alphonse Mourad, had mismanaged the complex on Washington Stre et in lower Roxbury. Greer told White that over the years Mourad paid out "millions of dollars" to himself but failed to make sure that the utility bill for the development was paid. Tenants had to make extra payments to utility companies to ensure they continued to get service, she said. The attorney general and the Boston Redevelopment Authority, sparked by tenants' complaints about conditions, filed suit in 1990 and have twice moved to rejuvenate the case. One of Mourad's four attorneys, Victor Aronow, told White there was no legal justification for the move and that Mourad has paid the back utility bill and corrected the original problems that led to the 1990 lawsuit. Meanwhile, a group of tenants incorporated as a cooperative is seeking to purchase the building. They attended the hearing yesterday in hopes of persuading White to halt the move by the attorney general's office and the BRA and allow negotiations on the sale of the building to proceed. Casimir Kowlaski, acting director of housing for the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, said yesterday he will meet tomorrow with tenants and Mourad to try and fashion a buyout by tenants. "I want to see the tenants own it; that's what I'm fighting for," Helen Aizpura, president of the tenants' cooperative, said after the court hearing. Thomas Samoluk, a spokesman for the attorney general's office, said officials plan to meet with tenants soon. "We are very happy to work with the federal authorities to try and bring some financial stability as well as new and honest ownership to what has been a very troubled apartment complex and its long-suffering tenants," he said. Mourad said he has spent $1.3 million in legal fees since 1990 and wants to work out an agreement to sell the property to the tenants. He declined to discuss a possible purchase price, but said the property is assessed by the city at $10 million. [ Click here for easy-print version ]Techical problems: If you have a technical problem with your account please contact Newsbank at 1-800-896-5587 or by e-mail at bostonglobe@newsbank.com. Return to the home page
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Beacon, residents to own Mandela

Boston Herald; Boston, Mass.; Sep 27, 1997; BERNARD WOLFSON; Abstract:Opening a new chapter in the troubled history of lower Roxbury's Mandela housing development, a federal bankruptcy judge yesterday awarded the project to a new partnership owned jointly by Beacon Properties and Mandela's tenants.Full Text:
Copyright Boston Herald Library Sep 27, 1997
Opening a new chapter in the troubled history of lower Roxbury's Mandela housing development, a federal bankruptcy judge yesterday awarded the project to a new partnership owned jointly by Beacon Properties and Mandela's tenants. Bankruptcy Judge Carol J. Kenner's ruling cut all ties between Mandela and its former owner, Alphonse Mourad. Mourad lost the housing project to a court-appointed trustee after he filed for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization last year amid charges of gross mismanagement. The new limited partnership between Beacon and the Mandela Residents Cooperative Association gives each 50 percent equity. The tenants group can buy out Beacon for $1 within five to seven years. The partnership has a capital budget of $18 million, including $4 million for Mourad's creditors and $11 million to renovate the 276-unit, 10-building affordable housing project. A consortium of investors will put up the $11 million to obtain tax credits. Mourad charged that the tenants were being duped by Beacon, the city of Boston and the state. He said they want the site for more lucrative commercial development. But the deal stipulates that in exchange for tax credits, Mandela must remain an affordable housing development.
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Councilors press BRA on $200G pledged to low-income tenants Boston Herald;

Boston, Mass.; May 5, 1995; DAVID WEBER; Abstract:Two city councilors are demanding Boston Redevelopment Authority records to explain what happened to $200,000 pledged to preserve affordable housing for a group of subsidized Roxbury tenants.But BRA director Marisa Lago said there is a simple reason why the money was never given to the tenants when it was promised by former BRA officials in 1986.Full Text:
Copyright Boston Herald Library May 5, 1995
Two city councilors are demanding Boston Redevelopment Authority records to explain what happened to $200,000 pledged to preserve affordable housing for a group of subsidized Roxbury tenants. But BRA director Marisa Lago said there is a simple reason why the money was never given to the tenants when it was promised by former BRA officials in 1986. Lago said the $200,000, part of a sum residents at the Mandela development hoped to use to establish a tenant-owned cooperative, was dependent upon landlord Alphonse Mourad selling the property in 1986. That sale fell through. Under the agreement at the time, Lago said, the BRA was free to use the $200,000 for other affordable housing projects if the Mandela development, formerly known as Westminster-Willard, received other subsidies. Lago said that condition was fulfilled when the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development subsidized 100 percent of the units there. However, councilors Richard Iannella and Gareth Saunders said the BRA, whose five board members are appointed by the mayor (four) and the governor (one) is not accountable. The councilors said they want a detailed accounting of how the $200,000 was spent. "These people (tenants) feel neglected and they want to know what happened to the money," said Iannella, chairman of the council's Planning and Economic Development Committee. Sub Title: [03 Edition]
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DPU sets new limits to rates of interest on overdue bills

Boston Herald; Boston, Mass.; Oct 1, 1994; JEFFREY KRASNER; Abstract:The DPU's order comes in response to a request from Alphonse Mourad, owner of the Mandela Apartments in Roxbury. For years, Mourad has waged an angry battle against Boston Edison, alleging that the utility has overcharged the complex and generated excessive and inaccurate bills. He claimed that he had overpaid his bills by $29,000, but that Edison refused to disclose its accounting records.Full Text:
Copyright Boston Herald Library Oct 1, 1994
Commercial customers with overdue accounts at local utilities will see their total bills grow more slowly thanks to the efforts of the owner of a Roxbury apartment complex who has had a long battle with Boston Edison. The Department of Public Utilities this week instituted new limits on the rate of interest gas, electric and phone companies can charge to their past due commercial accounts. Instead of a flat 18 percent interest, the utilities' maximum interest will be set at the two-year Treasury bill rate plus 10 percent. The new rate, which goes into effect Nov. 1, will drop to 14.05 percent. The DPU's order comes in response to a request from Alphonse Mourad, owner of the Mandela Apartments in Roxbury. For years, Mourad has waged an angry battle against Boston Edison, alleging that the utility has overcharged the complex and generated excessive and inaccurate bills. He claimed that he had overpaid his bills by $29,000, but that Edison refused to disclose its accounting records. In its order, the three DPU commissioners argued that late payment interest charges should remain relatively high. "While it is one of the Department's goals to make late payment charges more reflective of current interest rates, it is also important to ensure that late payment charges remain high enough to deter delinquent payment of accounts." They rejected a proposal to let rates float at 8 percentage points over the two-year Treasury bill, and instead adopted a 10 percent premium, to be computed Feb. 1 of each year. The order does not affect overdue accounts for residential customers, on which utilities are prohibited from charging interest. But the commissioners warned utilities against harassing customers, saying it "expects companies to suspend late payment charges where a customer has a good faith and reasonably grounded dispute on billed amounts, and abate late payment charges where the amount in dispute is determined to be erroneous."
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Roxbury landlord denies charge of failure to keep up apartments

Boston Herald; Boston, Mass.; Aug 17, 1994; BILL HUTCHINSON; Abstract:Alphonse Mourad, owner of V&M Management Co., blasted the attorney general's request for summary judgment from Suffolk Superior Court Judge Catherine White that would put his Mandela housing development into state receivership.Mourad - whose run-ins with city government date back a decade - accused the attorney general's office of helping push a "hidden agenda" to replace affordable housing in Roxbury with luxury housing for middle- and upper-class people.V&M attorney Victor Aronow said the violations [Leslie Greer] cited were the result of an "overzealous" inspector, who cited missing door stops as criminal violations.

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Copyright Boston Herald Library Aug 17, 1994
The owner of a Roxbury housing development - accused by an assistant state attorney general in court yesterday of being a bad landlord - portrayed himself as a savior of affordable housing and the target of development-hungry politicians. Alphonse Mourad, owner of V&M Management Co., blasted the attorney general's request for summary judgment from Suffolk Superior Court Judge Catherine White that would put his Mandela housing development into state receivership. Mourad - whose run-ins with city government date back a decade - accused the attorney general's office of helping push a "hidden agenda" to replace affordable housing in Roxbury with luxury housing for middle- and upper-class people. But Assistant Attorney General Leslie Greer told the court, "We are here and we were brought into this case four years ago by the tenants." She said some Mandela tenants complained of poor living conditions and long delays in requested repairs. She also accused V&M of "stifling" tenant attempts to organize. Inspections of the 276-apartment complex have "found numerous violations of the state sanitation code, the state building code and the state plumbing code," Greer said. But some 60 Mandela residents at the hearing bristled at the idea of receivership and said it would ruin their opportunity to own their apartments. Mourad has agreed to sell the complex to a cooperative of residents trying to secure money from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. "The residents definitely want to own their (apartments) and they are willing to fight for it," said Helen Aizprua, president of the Mandela Residents Cooperative Inc. Aizprua and other residents characterized their relationship with Mourad and V&M as "excellent." V&M attorney Victor Aronow said the violations Greer cited were the result of an "overzealous" inspector, who cited missing door stops as criminal violations. "That's what the attorney general's case is all about. It's about screw holes and missing door stops," said Aronow. V&M appeals Edison ruling Boston Herald; Boston, Mass.; Aug 5, 1993; MICHAEL E. KNELL; Abstract:V&M President Alphonse Mourad said the decision by the Department of Public Utilities was wrong because it permitted Boston Edison to charge compound interest and endorsed an 18 percent annual interest rate.The DPU has permitted 18 percent interest since the 1970s. Victor Aronow, attorney for Mourad, said 18 percent interest is no longer justified.Aronow said a study by the Goodman Group shows Edison's billing practices have been unreliable. "We believe there's a question of whether V&M really owes anything at all.

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Copyright Boston Herald Library Aug 5, 1993
V&M Management Co., owner of the Mandela apartments in Roxbury, has appealed a decision by state officials holding the firm responsible for nearly $300,000 in electric bills. V&M President Alphonse Mourad said the decision by the Department of Public Utilities was wrong because it permitted Boston Edison to charge compound interest and endorsed an 18 percent annual interest rate. Mourad is also in federal court, fighting a request by Boston Edison that the 276-unit apartment complex be placed in receivership. The DPU has permitted 18 percent interest since the 1970s. Victor Aronow, attorney for Mourad, said 18 percent interest is no longer justified. DPU Chairman Ken Gordon said yesterday he favors considering a change in the rate of interest charged. But Gordon rejected the notion that compound interest is unfair. "This is common practice and has been since Roman times." Unpaid bills are usually added to the basis used in utility rate requests, he said. "The commission's sympathy goes out - not to the company's shareholders - but to ratepayers." Residential customers cannot be charged compound interest. The DPU treats Mandela as a business because apartments do not have individual meters. Edison spokeswoman Sheila Eppolito said the company will not publicly discuss any issues between itself and any particular ratepayer. However, she said the utility has complied with regulators. "It is up to the DPU how we charge customers and the rate we charge. All that has to be approved by the DPU." Aronow said a study by the Goodman Group shows Edison's billing practices have been unreliable. "We believe there's a question of whether V&M really owes anything at all."
Developer sues for late fee changes Boston Herald; Boston, Mass.; Dec 22, 1992; MICHAEL E. KNELL; Abstract:[Alphonse Mourad] blamed late penalties and compound interest - which are not charged to residential customers - for much of V&M's huge utility debts.Mandela Apartments include 276 units and about 1,500 low-income tenants. Mourad has argued that the definition of commercial customer is too broadly interpreted.Mourad filed a complaint with the DPU in February. He said he went to court because the DPU would not issue a decision on his request for changes.Full Text:
Copyright Boston Herald Library Dec 22, 1992
The developer of the Mandela Apartments has sued state officials and local utilities, asking for changes in how late fees are assessed. V&M Management Co. and its president, Alphonse Mourad, last week filed suit in Superior Court against the state Department of Public Utilities, Boston Electric Co. and Boston Gas. The suit asked that interest rates be dropped from their current 18 percent, that utilities be forbidden from charging compound interest and be forced to read meters each month rather than issue estimated bills. Mourad blamed late penalties and compound interest - which are not charged to residential customers - for much of V&M's huge utility debts. Mandela Apartments include 276 units and about 1,500 low-income tenants. Mourad has argued that the definition of commercial customer is too broadly interpreted. DPU officials declined comment. The office of the Attorney General, which often represents state agencies, also washed its hands of the matter. "We don't ordinarily represent the DPU in disputes against individual ratepayers," AG spokeswoman Elizabeth Hyman said. Boston Edison spokesman Michael Monahan declined comment on the specifics of Mourad's case, but issued a defense of Edison practices. "The procedures which we use are all in accordance with state regulations," he said. "Most importantly, the procedures are in place so that customers who do pay their bills in a timely fashion do not subsidize those who choose not to." Mourad filed a complaint with the DPU in February. He said he went to court because the DPU would not issue a decision on his request for changes.
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Landlord cries foul over late fees Slams 18% interest charged by Edison Boston Herald;

Boston, Mass.; Dec 2, 1992; MICHAEL E. KNELL; Abstract:Alphonse Mourad, controversial owner of several properties including 1,500-unit Mandela apartments on Washington Street in Roxbury, argues that the 18 percent interest charged on late payments could kill his business and others that fall behind.Utility officials will not discuss Mourad's situation, but they reject the notion that their billing is unfair. After supplying a product and a service, it costs utilities money when the bill isn't paid, [William Lippincott] said.Mourad filed a complaint against both Edison and Boston Gas with the Department of Public Utilities, asking officials to revise rates for late payments.

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Copyright Boston Herald Library Dec 2, 1992
One of the city's feistier landlords says his dispute with utilities and state officials is a battle to stop a rip-off 18 percent rate for late payments. Alphonse Mourad, controversial owner of several properties including 1,500-unit Mandela apartments on Washington Street in Roxbury, argues that the 18 percent interest charged on late payments could kill his business and others that fall behind. Mourad said he has paid $1.1 million to Edison, but still owes $259,815, including $186,000 in interest. "What was good in the 1970s when interest rates were high - is that good in 1992 when there is a recession and the prime lending rate is 6 percent?" said Mourad, a veteran of conflicts with local officials. "They respond, `just pay your bill.' That's not the issue." Mark Cooper, research director of the Consumer Federation of America, agreed that the 18 percent rate is unfair in a time of low inflation and interest rates, "I think 18 percent is outrageous," he said. "We're outraged that the credit card folks are still getting 18 percent." But Cooper acknowledged that late payments have skyrocketed. William Lippincott, manager of credit collection at Boston Edison, said businesses whose payments used to lag a month are often 60 days behind. Those which used to lag 60 days are now three months behind, he said. "It's a reflection of the economy." Utility officials will not discuss Mourad's situation, but they reject the notion that their billing is unfair. After supplying a product and a service, it costs utilities money when the bill isn't paid, Lippincott said. Late payment interest makes up for the cost of collecting bills as well as for carrying debts that are never paid, he said. The rate was last changed in the 1970s. Since then, the Department of Public Utilities has routinely ratified it with each new utility rate case, said director Tim Shevlin. "We could say no, but we don't." But if rates for late payments are lowered, they would encourage non-payment, he said. "Utilities are not in the business of extending credit. They are not lenders, so it's not relevant that the prime interest rate is only 6 percent." Besides, if a business doesn't pay for the power it uses, the ratepayers will, Shevlin said. What utilities should charge depends on how the cost of unpaid bills is defined, Cooper said. Is it the cost of the utility's borrowing short-term money to make up the shortfall? Or it is only the lost income for money the utility didn't have in the bank? Short-term savings rates are about 3 percent. Cooper recommends a rate similar to mid-range borrowing rates, now about 12 percent. Mourad also has wider concerns. He said he believes utilities support city efforts to run him out of business so that Mandela can eventually be leveled as part of a high-profit redevelopment of the area. Mourad said he fell behind in his utility payments while he was spending nearly $800,000 in legal fees fighting the city and the Boston Redevelopment Authority. "If they had not cost me that money, I would not owe the utilities money today," he said. Mourad filed a complaint against both Edison and Boston Gas with the Department of Public Utilities, asking officials to revise rates for late payments. Landlord sues city housing aide for branding him a `slumlord' Boston Herald; Boston, Mass.; Oct 28, 1992; JOE SCIACCA; Abstract:Alphonse Mourad, owner of the federally subsidized Mandela apartment complex in Roxbury, is suing [Raymond L. Flynn] housing adviser Peter Dreier for the city official's labeling of him a "slumlord."Mourad's suit, filed in Middlesex Superior Court, charges that Dreier has also accused the landlord of "failing to pay his bills, corruption, mismanagement, milking, ripping off, taking out improper loans and stealing money.

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Copyright Boston Herald Library Oct 28, 1992
A Boston landlord battling city efforts to seize control of his property has sued a ranking aide to Mayor Raymond L. Flynn for slander, prompting the aide to in turn call him "a kook." Alphonse Mourad, owner of the federally subsidized Mandela apartment complex in Roxbury, is suing Flynn housing adviser Peter Dreier for the city official's labeling of him a "slumlord." Mourad's suit, filed in Middlesex Superior Court, charges that Dreier has also accused the landlord of "failing to pay his bills, corruption, mismanagement, milking, ripping off, taking out improper loans and stealing money." Dreier yesterday dismissed the suit as "harassment," and let loose on Mourad one more time. "He's a kook. He's basically got his back against the wall and he's going to lose his building," the Flynn aide said. "The fact that he is a slumlord is not just my opinion. It's based on his track record. Truth is the best defense," Dreier said. Mourad faces the loss of the Mandela complex in a bid by the city to have the 276 apartments placed into state receivership because of conditions in the development. Officials have charged that Mourad has failed to keep the development up to safety and health codes, misused federal rent subsidy funds and attempted to stop tenants from organizing. Mourad has said that receivership would displace low-income tenants and has slammed City Hall for allegedly trying to "gentrify" the neighborhood by replacing Mandela with luxury housing. He has blamed the city for refusing to negotiate a fair tax for the property in an effort to force him out. Sub Title:
Personal Names: Flynn, Raymond LMourad, AlphonseDreier, Peter
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NEWS IN BRIEF BRA, HUD come under fire Boston

Herald; Boston, Mass.; Jul 21, 1996;Housing agencies and private developers were accused yesterday of trying to displace the tenants of subsidized apartments in Roxbury. Groups including the National African-American Leadership Summit and Million Man March organizers met in a Roxbury church to blast the Boston Redevelopment Authority and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Critics pointed to the bankruptcy of the private, federally subsidized Mandela Apartments complex as an example of what they said was an effort to intentionally displace low-income residents in favor of commercial properties and high-priced condominiums.
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REPAIRS ARE ORDERED AT MANDELA

Author(s): Adrian Walker Date: September 14, 1990 Page: 69 Section: METRO A Suffolk Superior Court judge yesterday ordered the owner of the Mandela Apartments to immediately begin repairs at the complex in the South End. Judge John Cratsley's order gives Alfonse Mourad seven days to repair sanitary violations, fix leaks and correct exposed electrical wiring in 32 units. Still pending is a state lawsuit asking that a receiver be appointed to manage the property, as well as a city suit filed Wednesday that also seeks new management for the 276-unit property. This was the first step: We wanted the court to enter an immediate order that the sanitary code violations be corrected," said Deputy Attorney General Steve Jonas. "Next, we will ask that a receiver be appointed so that this thing can be put into shape." Mourad's attorney, Victor Aronow, said Mourad was willing to make the repairs in the required time. "We went in and told the judge 'we'll stipulate to all the repairs,' " Aronow said. "Most of them will be completed by the 21st. Some of them are dependent on third-party vendors like buying refrigerators and stoves." Mourad and the state will again meet in court on Sept. 21, the deadline for the repairs to be completed. Jonas said he did not know whether the state will ask Cratsley to appoint a receiver at that hearing.
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THE MEMBERS OF MANDELA RESIDENTS
COOPERATIVE ASSOCIATION, INC.
Invite You to Attend a Meeting with
Representatives from the Offices of Congressman J. Joseph Moakley, Congressman Joseph Kennedy, Senator John Kerry & The Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA)
U.S. Housing and Urban Development on Thursday, November 3, 1994 at 7:00pm
REGARDING THE OWNERSHIP OF OUR HOMES
Democracy is Not a Spectator Sport!
10 Hammond Street Lower Roxbury, Massachusetts
COMMITTEE ON RULES CHAIRMAN
MEMORANDUM:
TO: Mandela Residents Cooperative Association, Inc. Congressional Housing Specialists Group Department of Housing and Urban Development Boston Redevelopment Authority City Councillor Gareth Saunders.
FROM: James W. Woodard, Congressman Joe Moakley's
RE: Office November 3, 1994 Mandela Tenants
DATE:Meeting November 4, 1994
City Councillor Gareth Saunders, Jim Drazen of the Boston HUD office and James Woodard of Congressman Joe Moakley's office met with the Mandela Residents Cooperative Association on Thursday evening, November 3, 1994.
The residents requested the meeting to solicit support for their efforts to purchase their units. The meeting was chaired by Ms. Helen Aizprua, President of the Association.
Mr. Yawu Miller, a reporter for the Bay State Banner and Ms. Julia Chang, a photographer for the same newspaper attended the meeting.
Dr. Peggy Brown, Director of the Mandela Town Hall Healrh Spot and Youth Program, facilitated the first part of the meeting. She expressed disappointment that the Boston Redevelopment Authority was not represented at the meeting; she also expressed disappointment that Senator John Kerry and Congressman Joe Kennedy were not represented.
Dr. Brown, with verbal support from those present, chastised the BRA for not providing Mandela residents with the $25,000 seed money for,-consultants promised in former BRA director Stephen Coyle's letter of December 28, 1988. She admonished residents about their responsibility to hold elected officials accountable for responding to their demands.
James Woodard explained to the residents that Congressman Moakley no longer represented that part of Boston which includes the Mandela Apartments. He stressed, however, that he is part of the Congressional Housing Specialist Group [CHSG], which includes staff members of Senators Edward Kennedy and John^ Kerry and Congressmen Joe Kennedy and Joe Moakley with occasional participation from Congressman Barney Frank's office.
He gave a brief history and functional methodology of the group, such as, when members of the CHSG cannot attend meetings with tenants, whoever is present provide absent members with a detailed report of what occurred at the meeting. Jeanette Boone of Senator Kerry's office had a prior engagement and could not attend. Jim Spencer of Congressman Kennedy's office had indicated that he was in the field campaigning with the Congressman.
Woodard discussed his telephone conversations with Ms. Marisa Lago, Director of the BRA; Paul McCann, Executive Assistant to the Director of the BRA; and, Casimir Kolaski, Director of Housing for the Regional HUD office.
Mr. Kolaski of HUD expressed his familiarity with the situation at Mandela Apartments and promised his office's support for the residents efforts to successfully purchase their homes. ..He promised that his office would be represented at the meeting.
Ms. Lago expressed her agency's frustration in trying to deal with Mr. Alphonse Mourad, President of V & M Management Co., Inc., owner of the property. The Authority questions his sincerity regarding his willingness to do what is necessary to help the residents purchase their homes. Mr. McCann's views supported Ms. Lago.
A copy of Mr. McCann's letter of October 28, 1994, was distributed to those in attendance. His letter indicated among other things, that, "Mr. Coyle's letter ceased to be effective when the proposed private sale fell through five years ago. While the Authority no longer has the funds available that were referenced in Mr. Coyle's letter, the Authority would be pleased to assist in obtaining pro bone legal services to advise the tenants."
Woodard offered to try and arrange a meeting for Mandela's Tenants Council to meet with the Congressional Housing Specialist Group in concert with representatives of the Boston Redevelopment Authority and representatives of the Regional HUD office. He felt that the
outcome of such a meeting would inform Mandela residents of precisely what resources were available to them.
Jim Drazen of HUD reiterated Casimir Kolaski's commitment to the resident of Mandela Apartments. He revealed that he had met the previous week with Helen Aizprua, president of the Mandela Tenants' Association and Alphonse Mourad, owner of the property.
In responding to audience questions demanding the BRA account for the $25,000, Drazen admonished the tenants not to be diverted from doing what is necessary to accomplish their goal of owning their homes. He indicated getting money from the BRA might take time that could be better used organizing their cooperative association. He offered HUD's assistance in helping to locate agencies and other resources which they could use.
Drazen reminded residents of his history of working with Mandela residents; he also cited examples of successful and on-going cooperatives, such as. Grant Manor, Roxse Hones, Camfield Gardens and others. He cited Academy Homes as the risk the tenants would take if they failed to act in an expeditious manner.
City Councillor Gareth Saunders told the group that he had spoken with the Director of the Boston Redevelopment Authority and she had informed him that the BRA does not have money but will help obtain pro bono support [The same position presented in Paul McCann's letter of October 28, 1994 to James Woodard] for Mandela Apartments' cooperative organizing efforts.
To residents demand that he facilitate and audit of BRA books or conduct hearings on the matter, Saunders offered that the agency would probably "drag .its, feet".*and time would bey-wasted. He indicated his ... willingness to work with the residents and**meet as regularly as necessary to help them achieve their goal of home ownership.
Following a lengthy and sometimes raucous question and answer segment, the Mandela Residents Cooperative Association requested the following of Councillor Gareth Saunders, Jim Drazen and James Woodard:
1) Ask the Boston Redevelopment Authority what happened to the full $200,000' promised by former BRA Director Stephen Coyle in 1988.
2) Conduct a follow-up meeting between the leadership of Mandela Tenants Council and the Congressional Housing Specialist Group.
3) Facilitate a meeting with HUD, BRA, CHSG and the leaders of Mandela Tenants Council.
At the end of the meeting, Ms. Helen Aizprua requested that the meeting between the Congressional Housing Specialist Group and the Leaders cf the Tenan-cs Council, includinc herself, Mary Hill, vice-president of the association as well as Mary Lycurgus and others, be held at 10:00 A.M. on Thursday, November 17, 1994. The meeting will be held at Congressman Moakley's office at 220 World Trade Center. The meeting will combine numbers 2) and 3) of the tenants demands. The BRA will be asked to respond in more detail to the Coyle letter at the meeting for those who do not understand Mr. McCann's letter of October 28, 1994.
Jim Drazen of the Boston HUD Regional office has indicated that he will attend the meeting. The Boston Redevelopment Authority will be asked to send a representative as well. ,
It is expected that the meeting on November l7th will serve as the genesis for a constructive effort to facilitate cooperative housing at Mandela Apartments.
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JOHN JOSEPH MOAKLEY
Congress of the United States
October 28, 1994
Mr. Paul McCann, Executive Assistant
to the Director Boston Redevelopment Authority City Hall Boston, MA 02201
Dear Mr. McCann:
I am writing to request clarification of Former BRA Director, Stephen Coyle's letter of December 28, 1988, to Winter Hill Federal Savings Bank President, Leroy H. Keihn, concerning the Mandela Apartments.
Specifically, Mr. Coyle stated, "In fact, the BRA has allocated $25,000 for the tenant?: to retain one or more consultants of their choice for the purpose of establishing a workable tenant cooperative." The tenants of Mandela never received the funds and are very distrubed because other federal and city housing developments have received substantial sums of money since 1988.
Yesterday afternoon I met with Dr. Peggy Brown, Director of the Mandela Town Hall Health Spot and Youth Program. She has a convivial working relationship with city and community leaders and she is one of the most active and effective advocates for youth in the city. She asked that we ascertain the availability of the $25,000 and when Mandela tenants will receive it.
Mandela tenants are planning a large demonstration in government center on Monday, October 31, 1994. Dr. Brown believes that a resonable explanation concerning the promised funds will prevent the demonstration. She advised the tenants that such a demonstration would be ill advised at this time. However, many of the tenants seem to feel that such a demonstration one week prior to the election will work to their advantage since they have been ignored by the city.
Congressman Moakley represented Mandela residents for 20 years; the area is now being represented by Congressman Joe Kennedy. This letter is being forwarded to him as well as Senator John F. Kerry.
Please advise as soon as possible. Sincerely,
James W. Woodard Assistant District Manager
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THE BOSTON GLOBE * THURSDAYS 27,1995
MANDELA TENANTS STAGE PROTEST
About 100 Mandela housing development tenants demonstrated outside Boston City Hall yesterday, shouting and carrying signs de-manding to speak with city officials to resolve a dispute with the Boston Redevelopment Authority. The tenants, who say the BRA owes them $200,000, also fled suit against the BRA yesterday, the latest in a string of lawsuits filed over the "affordabi-lity fund." Alphonse Mourad, Man-dela's owner, said the BRA promised 200,000 in 1986 to be used a? seed money to trarisform the troubled project into a tenant-owned cooperative. BRA officials maintain that the fund? were earmarked for hous-ing. but were never allocated be-cause the development is fully under federal subsidy. BRA spokeswoman Kelley Quinn said that there is no money currently allocated for the Mandela housing development.
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THE BOSTON GLOBE / NEWS:
COUNCILORS VOW PROBE OF BRA FUND USE
Author(s): Michael Grunwald, Globe Staff Date: April 20, 1995 Page: 60 Section: METRO Two city councilors yesterday vowed to hold public hearings on the Boston Redevelopment Authority's use of almost $1 million that tenants of a Roxbury housing project say was meant for them. As outraged tenants of the Westminster-Willard development, known as Mandela, held a news conference to denounce the BRA and demand an investigation, councilors Richard Iannella and Gareth Saunders said they were determined to find out what happened to the disputed funds. "There is a serious, serious cloud hanging over the BRA right now," said Iannella, chairman of the council's committee on planning and economic development. "We need to take action to see whether the BRA misused this money." Mandela tenants and their landlord, Alphonse Mourad, contend the BRA was obligated to spend $200,000 plus the proceeds from a settlement with a Back Bay condominium dealer at the project. In yesterday's Globe, Mourad cited a December 1986 board vote establishing the Westminster-Willard Fund for the sole benefit of Mandela tenants. But the BRA insists the fund never existed, saying the vote was contingent on Mourad's selling the development to a private buyer who had threatened to convert to market-rent housing. BRA director Marisa Lago told the Globe on Tuesday that the fund was originally conceived to ensure that Mandela would remain affordable, and that once Mourad secured federal rent subsidies for all 276 apartments at Mandela, the agency was free to use the money on other affordable housing initiatives. "The reason we considered making a fund was that Mourad was going to sell," said BRA spokeswoman Kelly Rice Quinn. "The sale never went through, and Westminster-Willard is now 100 percent [subsidized]. Affordability is ensured at that site." But in November 1996, Mandela's subsidy contracts will expire, and affordability may be at risk. At Mandela yesterday, about 30 tenants held a rally to accuse the BRA of blocking their dream of an affordable, tenant-owned cooperative. They said they were furious about a Globe report that the BRA spent almost all of the original $200,000 on attorney's fees, and even angrier that $163,822 went to a firm whose services to the BRA have included a bid to force Mandela into receivership. "That is our money," said tenant activist Mary Lycurgus. "We need it for our children." Saunders, a Roxbury councilor, said the dispute over Mandela indicates a larger problem of a lack of oversight of the BRA. Saunders said he wants to know why the agency now operates at a deficit. © Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company
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Beacon, residents to own Mandela
Boston Herald; Boston, Mass.; Sep 27, 1997; BERNARD WOLFSON;
Abstract:
Opening a new chapter in the troubled history of lower Roxbury's Mandela housing development, a federal bankruptcy judge yesterday awarded the project to a new partnership owned jointly by Beacon Properties and Mandela's tenants.
Full Text:
Copyright Boston Herald Library Sep 27, 1997
Opening a new chapter in the troubled history of lower Roxbury's Mandela housing development, a federal bankruptcy judge yesterday awarded the project to a new partnership owned jointly by Beacon Properties and Mandela's tenants.
Bankruptcy Judge Carol J. Kenner's ruling cut all ties between Mandela and its former owner, Alphonse Mourad. Mourad lost the housing project to a court-appointed trustee after he filed for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization last year amid charges of gross mismanagement.
The new limited partnership between Beacon and the Mandela Residents Cooperative Association gives each 50 percent equity. The tenants group can buy out Beacon for $1 within five to seven years.
The partnership has a capital budget of $18 million, including $4 million for Mourad's creditors and $11 million to renovate the 276-unit, 10-building affordable housing project. A consortium of investors will put up the $11 million to obtain tax credits.
Mourad charged that the tenants were being duped by Beacon, the city of Boston and the state. He said they want the site for more lucrative commercial development.
But the deal stipulates that in exchange for tax credits, Mandela must remain an affordable housing development
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BRA APPROVES SALE OF APARTMENTS, BUT SOME TENANTS REMAIN OPPOSEDAuthor(s):
Joanne Ball, Globe Staff Date: December 12, 1986 Page: 27 Section: METRO The Boston Redevelopment
Authority board yesterday approved the sale of Westminster-Willard Apartments in lower Roxbury, including provisions designed to protect the interests of the low-income tenants. The deal faltered several times during the nine months since the owner agreed to sell the property to landlord Edmund Shamsi for $5.5 million, in part because of longstanding tenant opposition to Shamsi and in part because of the BRA's efforts to safeguard tenant concerns. Despite conditions recently added to the sale agreement, some tenants yesterday said they plan to ask for a meeting with Mayor Flynn to urge him to reject the sale. The sale of the 274-unit development, located mainly on Washington Street, required BRA approval because it was built under the state's urban renewal plan and received special tax benefits. The mayor must approve the board's action for the transition to be completed. "He's our last chance," said tenant Anthony Lycurgus, 35, who added that he and other tenants fear the development would eventually be turned into luxury housing, forcing out the poor tenants. "The mayor has been a friend to tenants. . . . I had faith in the mayor for many years. I'm just hoping that the mayor doesn't make me lose my faith." Francis J. Costello, Flynn's press secretary, said, "The mayor will be reviewing that action and he will make a decision that will be in the best interest of the tenants in the near future." As one of the provisions of the sale, the BRA established an "affordability fund," in which money that the city won in an unrelated lawsuit will go to the tenants as rent subsidies after 1996 when federal subsidies expire or as an initial payment for converting the development into a tenant-owned cooperative. BRA director Stephen Coyle estimated that the awards from the lawsuit could amount to $2 million by 1996. The first-time payment creating the "affordability fund" will be $200,000. "The BRA vote -- and the creation of the affordability fund -- reflects the Flynn administration commitment to protecting the rights of tenants," Coyle said in a statement. "The federal government has never indicated what it might do to protect the rights of tenants who will lose . . . subsidies in future years." Other conditions of the transaction require the new owner to: - Place $488,000 in an escrow account to correct housing code violations; - Provide the BRA with an annual $200,000 letter of credit to cover any maintenance and operating deficits; - Enter an agreement with the tenants' organization for tenant management. Alphonse Mourad, the current owner, sued the BRA and the city for $7 million, alleging that the city stalled the sale for political reasons. Mourad said he was uncertain about dropping the suit, but added: "I know I'm going to seek damages. I did suffer serious damages. © Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company
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BRA OFFICIAL NAMED IN DEVELOPER'S SUIT LANDLORD ASSERTS HOUSING AIDE TRIED TO FORCE HIM INTO DEAL INVOLVING NONPROFIT GROUP
Author(s): Michael K. Frisby, Globe Staff Date: December 10, 1986 Page: 48 Section: METRO A
Boston Redevelopment Authority official allegedly tried to force landlord Edmund I. Shamsi to sell an apartment building to a nonprofit organization in exchange for approval from the authority to buy the Westminster-Willard apartments in Roxbury.litical reasons." Any sale of Westminster-Willard must receive BRA approval because the original developers received special tax benefits when the 274-unit building was built. Yesterday, BRA Director Stephen Coyle declined to address the accusations made in the suit against Peter Dreier, Coyle's special assistant for housing. Coyle, however, said the agency is actively trying to find a solution to satisfy the parties in the case. The disposition of the Westminster-Willard apartments, on Washington Street, has been a controversial topic in recent months. Tenant advocates have opposed the proposed $5.5 million sale, charging that Shamsi has a record of complaints from tenants who live in his other properties around the city. According to an affidavit signed by attorney Glenn P. Frank and filed in housing court as part of the suit, Frank's law office, which represents Shamsi, was told on several occasions by Dreier, the BRA deputy director, that the BRA would not approve the sale unless several conditions were met. In the affidavit, Frank charges that Dreier listed the following conditions: - That Shamsi must agree to sell the Buckminster Apartments, at 645 Beacon St., to a nonprofit organization that would maintain the facility as a rooming house. "I have been informed by Mr. Shamsi,"
Frank wrote, "that not only were all offers from nonprofit corporations wholly inadequate, but also that Mr. Shamsi is not the sole owner of said premises and permission from independent third parties would be required to complete such a transaction." - That Shamsi must place the Back
Bay Manor Apartments, at 75 Alphonsus St., under the control of the Boston Rent Equity Board. "This project, due to idiosyncrasies in the Boston Rent Equity Ordinance, is presently exempt from rent control and is not monitored by the Boston Rent Equity Board," Frank wrote. -
That all housing code violations on any properties owed in whole or in part by Shamsi be remedied and/or corrected before an approval would be forthcoming. City officials said Dreier was out of town on business yesterday, but Francis Costello, the press secretary for Mayor Flynn, issued a statement in Dreier's defense. "If, indeed, Peter Dreier made such remarks, they evidence a concern for protecting the rights of poor people," Costello said. "If someone, lawyer or otherwise, wants to call that extortion they are guilty of a perversion of language. If city officials aren't committed to protecting the legitimate housing needs of poor people in such places as rooming houses, then who is going to do that?" Several city councilors, however, were upset by the allegations and called for more control over the BRA. District Councilor James M. Kelly (South Boston-South End-Chinatown) said the charges, if true, would indicate an "overstepping" of the role of city government and called the alleged actions "regretful."
Councilor at Large Michael J. McCormack called on the BRA board of directors to pay closer attention to Dreier's activities. "I'd like to know what nonprofit group was to benefit from Dreier's efforts and what gave him the right to make those representations," said McCormack. And Councilor at Large Joseph M. Tierney, who is considering running for mayor against Flynn next year, said: "It is coercion, conspiracy, unethical and a conflict of interest." Tierney said he plans to seek City Council approval of deals made in exchange for city approval of development projects. "I will push that the City Council be told about these inside deals," he said. "They are not voluntary. They are extortion. And there are laws on the books against it." In response, Costello said: "Unlike the case of Peter Dreier, one would certainly be surprised if Tierney ever took such a position in defense of poor tenants." Coyle, meanwhile, said the BRA has pursued a policy of trying to ensure that the sale of the Westminster-Willard apartments preserves their affordability to tenants, allows for tenant review of management procedures and remains in compliance with all building and health codes. According to sources familiar with the proposed sale, the BRA board may consider a proposal to approve the sale to Shamsi at its meeting tomorrow. The BRA, sources said, may require that $480,000 be placed in escrow to pay for the repair of code violations; that a $200,000 letter of credit be set aside to finance the correction of any future violations; and that a fund be set up by the BRA to help replace federal rent subsidies that will expire in 1996. Tenant advocates, the sources said, have sought many of these conditions as safeguards against displacement.
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ROXBURY TENANTS QUESTION FUND USE SOME SAY BRA BLOCKED
CO-OPAuthor(s): Michael Grunwald, Globe Staff
Date: April 19, 1995 Page: 23 Section: METRO It was named the ''Westminster-Willard Affordability Fund,'' intended ''for the sole benefit of tenants of the Project.'' It was supposed to start with $200,000 in public funds in 1986. By now it would have swelled to nearly $1 million. But the money is gone, and the Boston Redevelopment Authority says it spent all of it. And the tenants of the Westminster-Willard housing project in Roxbury, known as Mandela, never saw a dime. In fact, an internal memo shows the BRA paid $163,822 of the original $200,000 to the top-flight law firm representing the agency in its bid to force Mandela into receivership, a battle fiercely opposed by the project's tenant association. BRA officials said the situation is more complex than it appears. They said the Westminster-Willard Affordability Fund was contingent on a proposed sale of the project, and since the sale collapsed, the fund never really existed. They said the agency spent the money originally earmarked for Mandela on other affordable housing initiatives, as well as the receivership bid. Mandela tenants -- along with their landlord, longtime BRA antagonist Alphonse Mourad -- said the agency has betrayed them, exacerbating financial problems at their project and blocking their dream of a tenant-owned cooperative. "They're supposed to spend money to help us. Instead they spend money to fight us," said Rotimi Abu, 36, a taxi driver who lives at Mandela. "We are sick of these broken promises." BRA director Marisa Lago said she could not speak in depth about Mandela because her agency is involved in several legal battles over the project. But she said the agency's vote creating the fund on Dec. 11, 1986, was contingent on Mourad selling the project. She said once the sale fell through, and Mourad secured federal rent subsidies for all 276 apartments at Mandela, the BRA was relieved of any obligation to the Washington Street project. "I can understand the confusion, but that fund never truly existed," she said. "So once we felt affordable housing was assured at Westminster, we put the money into other initiatives to preserve and create affordable housing." Mourad has spent more than $1 million over the last decade on lawsuits against a host of city, state and federal agencies, and has built a reputation as a congenitally squeaky wheel. He even hired a high-powered team from Regan Communications to present his complaints about the disputed funds to the Globe. He also provided a slew of documents buttressing his case that the BRA was committed to use $200,000, plus all proceeds from an unrelated settlement with a Back Bay condominium dealer, for a fund to help subsidize rents or promote a tenant-owned cooperative at Mandela.
The documents seem to indicate that the BRA voted to establish the fund with proceeds "dedicated exclusively for the Project," although the certificate of vote does permit the agency to spend the funds on other projects if Mandela secures "adequate further rent subsidies." A December 1988 letter from former BRA director Stephen Coyle confirms that the agency had decided to allocate $25,000 from the fund to help them hire a consultant to pursue a co-op. And a January 1989 letter from attorney Saul Schapiro, whose firm eventually received most of the original $200,000, said the BRA hoped Mandela would receive more than the $700,000 "already committed to the project" at that time. Mourad, who has many mortgages on the project and says he is millions of dollars in debt, said he had hoped the fund would help him sell Mandela to his tenants, ensuring permanent affordability at the project. With project-based rent subsidies under attack in Washington, he said he has no idea what will happen when his subsidy contracts expire in November 1996. "It's a real mess," he said. "The tenants are scared. They've been told there's a pool of money, and now it's gone." Lago said that if the tenants were told that money was available for them, they were misinformed. She said the BRA vote to establish the Westminster Fund was part of a regulatory agreement that was never signed. In any case, she said the BRA voted in March 1991 that proceeds from the Back Bay Restorations settlement should be "unencumbered by any prior agreement." "There was no deal," she said. "I'm very sorry if expectations were raised, but we didn't try to raise them." Lago would not break down how the Back Bay settlement money, nearly $800,000, has been spent. But she confirmed an internal BRA accounting of the original $200,000 was correct: $163,822 to the law firm of Saul Schapiro, $35,000 to other law firms, and $4,500 to State Street Trust. She said that all the payments involved affordable housing initiatives including Roxbury Crossing and Parmalee Court in Roxbury. Mourad and his new public relations team said they had never before heard the BRA claim the fund had never existed. "What planet are they on?" said George Regan, head of Regan Communications. "They're like a weather vane: They say one thing one day, another thing when the Globe calls." In any case, Lago said the BRA is still committed to helping Mandela's tenants pursue a cooperative, and the US Department of Housing is also looking for funding sources to finance a sale. The project is in decent physical condition; its financial condition is another question altogether. "We all want to go forward with a co-op, but they don't really want poor people to get their way," said Thelma Barros, 36, a Mandela resident. "We've got a lot of questions about this, and we're not hearing a lot of answers." © Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company
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ROXBURY TENANTS PROTEST, BACK LANDLORD
Author(s): Maria Sacchetti, Contributing Reporter
Date: August 15, 1990 Page: 51 Section: METRO
Nearly 100 tenants from the Mandela housing development in Roxbury demonstrated at the state Department of Public Health and the State House yesterday after the apartment owner, Alphonse Mourad, said the state was trying to evict them. The tenants were bused from the Washington Street development to the Public , Health Department on Tremont Street to "show support" for Mourad at a hearing to discuss alleged sanitary code violations in four of the 267 units. But several tenants said they had requested the inspection and that the protest was a "trick." Some tenants and others claimed Mourad played on the tenants' fears of homelessness to garner their support. Mourad, who requested the hearing, asserted the investigation by Attorney General James Shannon was part of a conspiracy to oust him and his 1,500 residents, most of whom are black or Hispanic. However, after the tenants left for a rally at the State House, Mourad agreed to make "reasonable repairs," his lawyer, Stephen Salon, said. Before the 11 a.m. hearing, building managers issued a press release from Mourad and "the tenants" alleging the city wants to force a foreclosure and build new housing for whites on the property. Mourad has filed several lawsuits against the city, including one charging lack of police protection in the area, Salon said. Shannon "wants to hang a slumlord and get a little publicity," Mourad said at the hearing. "That's why the whole city's out to crucify Al Mourad." But Van Dunn, deputy commissioner of DPH, said the state was simply doing its job. Dan Sheehan, administrative assistant for the Boston Inspectional Services Department, said the city had previously investigated complaints in the complex but was not involved in the current investigation. Priscilla Fox, attorney for DPH, said an inspection showed mice and rat infestation, doors hanging off cabinets, tiles falling from walls, missing window screens, "scalding" hot water, and faulty ventilation devices. After listening to the list of violations, several of the tenants, including those protesting, said the problems exist. © Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company
__________________________________________________ ROXBURY RESIDENTS VENT FRUSTRATION BY RENAMING COMPLEX 'MANDELA'
Author(s): Jim Gomez, Contributing Reporter Date:
July 12, 1987 Page: 35 Section: METRO Residents
of a Roxbury housing development decided that the best way to show their frustration with City Hall over the project's impending change of ownership was to throw a "party of emancipation" and announce the new name for the complex: Mandela Development. Yesterday, an estimated 1,000 residents of the 276-unit development, located a stone's throw from the abandoned elevated Orange Line, gathered under a bright yellow-and-white tent for an afternoon of hot dogs, music, and mutual support. Tenants said they were temporarily putting aside their fears of gentrification along the Washington Street corridor and their charges that for years they have not had proper city services. For most tenants, it was a time to be heated not by housing issues but by the summer sun. "We've been sold up the river so many times here," said Barbara Jones, a resident and organizer of the party. "But today, we just want to have a good time." As children raced by on scooters and bicycles, the parents said they would forget for one day that the project, formerly called the Westminster Willard Development, would be sold for the second time in six years. Many of the residents carried pastel-colored balloons and sported gray T- shirts that bore one word: MANDELA, for Nelson Mandela, the imprisoned South African opposition leader against apartheid. "It's a good time to meet all the neighbors, and the music's good," said Sherry Vanderhorst as she wrestled with her 2-year-old son, Arrey. "You want to buy a baby?" she asked, smiling. Nearby stood Andrew Jones, who organized a movement last year to put a controversial nonbinding referendum on the November ballot asking voters if they wanted to reincorporate a large segment of Boston into a new city called Mandela. "This act of changing the name of the development is more principle than politics," Jones said. "These people are talking about empowerment over their lives. And with empowerment comes responsibility, which brings change." But the party and the name change drew criticism from neighbors as close as a block away. Garland Devan, a member of United Emmanuel Holiness Church, questioned the wisdom of using the name Mandela for the development. "It seems to enforce the idea of separatism," said Devan, to the nods of fellow church members who were manning a yard sale. According to Barbara Jones, who is a board member of the development's Tuckerman Tenant Union, tenants have fought for more than a year to prevent the sale of the buildings they occupy to developer Edmund Shamsi. The sale was negotiated through the Boston Redevelopment Authority, and residents charge the agency lied to them about the proceedings. The name of the project was changed with the approval of the current owner, Alfonse Mourad. Mourad, who bought the 22-building complex from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, was forced to put the property up for sale through the BRA after he encountered tax problems. The BRA has negotiated a purchase-and-sale agreement with Shamsi without Mourad's knowledge, he charges. BRA officials could not be reached for comment yesterday on the charges. "When we found out that Mourad was having tax problems and was going to sell the place, we were devastated," said Barbara Jones. She said tenants rallied around him because of the positive changes he helped bring about. They lobbied city officials, including BRA director Stephen Coyle and Don Gillis, director of the Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Services. In a phone conversation with BRA spokesman Peter Drier in September, Jones said, she received an assurance that the property would not be sold to Shamsi, whom she says tenants do not trust. Yesterday, as Big Bird and the Cookie Monster mingled with the young, smiling faces, petitions demanding Coyle's resignation were quietly passed around. "Even though we are mostly poor, we should have a say in the property. We are not stupid, and we should have a say so in this," said Barbara Jones. [
Click here for easy-print version ] © Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company
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Beacon, residents to own Mandela
Boston Herald; Boston, Mass.; Sep 27, 1997; BERNARD WOLFSON; Abstract:Opening a new chapter in the troubled history of lower Roxbury's Mandela housing development, a federal bankruptcy judge yesterday awarded the project to a new partnership owned jointly by Beacon Properties and Mandela's tenants.Full Text:
Copyright Boston Herald Library Sep 27, 1997
Opening a new chapter in the troubled history of lower Roxbury's Mandela housing development, a federal bankruptcy judge yesterday awarded the project to a new partnership owned jointly by Beacon Properties and Mandela's tenants. Bankruptcy Judge Carol J. Kenner's ruling cut all ties between Mandela and its former owner, Alphonse Mourad. Mourad lost the housing project to a court-appointed trustee after he filed for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization last year amid charges of gross mismanagement. The new limited partnership between Beacon and the Mandela Residents Cooperative Association gives each 50 percent equity. The tenants group can buy out Beacon for $1 within five to seven years. The partnership has a capital budget of $18 million, including $4 million for Mourad's creditors and $11 million to renovate the 276-unit, 10-building affordable housing project. A consortium of investors will put up the $11 million to obtain tax credits. Mourad charged that the tenants were being duped by Beacon, the city of Boston and the state. He said they want the site for more lucrative commercial development. But the deal stipulates that in exchange for tax credits, Mandela must remain an affordable housing development.
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Councilors press BRA on $200G pledged to low-income tenants Boston Herald;
Boston, Mass.; May 5, 1995; DAVID WEBER; Abstract:Two city councilors are demanding Boston Redevelopment Authority records to explain what happened to $200,000 pledged to preserve affordable housing for a group of subsidized Roxbury tenants.But BRA director Marisa Lago said there is a simple reason why the money was never given to the tenants when it was promised by former BRA officials in 1986.Full Text:
Copyright Boston Herald Library May 5, 1995
Two city councilors are demanding Boston Redevelopment Authority records to explain what happened to $200,000 pledged to preserve affordable housing for a group of subsidized Roxbury tenants. But BRA director Marisa Lago said there is a simple reason why the money was never given to the tenants when it was promised by former BRA officials in 1986. Lago said the $200,000, part of a sum residents at the Mandela development hoped to use to establish a tenant-owned cooperative, was dependent upon landlord Alphonse Mourad selling the property in 1986. That sale fell through. Under the agreement at the time, Lago said, the BRA was free to use the $200,000 for other affordable housing projects if the Mandela development, formerly known as Westminster-Willard, received other subsidies. Lago said that condition was fulfilled when the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development subsidized 100 percent of the units there. However, councilors Richard Iannella and Gareth Saunders said the BRA, whose five board members are appointed by the mayor (four) and the governor (one) is not accountable. The councilors said they want a detailed accounting of how the $200,000 was spent. "These people (tenants) feel neglected and they want to know what happened to the money," said Iannella, chairman of the council's Planning and Economic Development Committee. Sub Title: [03 Edition]




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