Housing Authority of Baltimore City Pays Lead Judgments
(Baltimore, MD - August 14, 2013) Today the Housing Authority of Baltimore City’s (HABC) Executive Director Paul T. Graziano announced that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has approved HABC to pay $6,786,955.86 to satisfy 6 outstanding lead paint judgments.
"It has always been our desire to satisfy these judgments. We explored a number of options to address these cases and resolve all remaining claims (filed and unfiled) in a global manner while continuing to serve the most vulnerable households in Baltimore," said Executive Director Graziano. "Unfortunately, a global resolution was not possible, and payment of the judgments involved complicated and lengthy matters including litigation in federal court, as well as HUD review and approval."
It should be noted that while these cases were filed in the past few years, they involve incidents that occurred prior to the implementation of Maryland’s lead law in 1996, as well as, recent appellate opinions significantly impacting HABC’s legal liabilities. HABC has been compliant with this law and is providing lead safe housing to all it serves since its inception. HABC has the great responsibility of providing homes for over 25,000 very low-income households throughout Baltimore city, while facing severe federal funding constraints.
“I’m pleased that HUD has allowed HABC to satisfy these judgments and thereby provide relief to these families,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. “I am confident that HABC will continue to address the historical challenges associated with these types of cases and meet the housing needs of the 25,000 families it serves.”
HABC is not a city agency, and its funds to operate the public housing and voucher programs are provided entirely from HUD. Despite published reports to the contrary, HABC has not refused to pay judgments, the agency had not received approval from HUD to make such payments. In fact, HABC received HUD approval in a letter dated August 7, 2013 and delivered payments on August 8, 2013. There are no provisions for seeking supplemental grants from the federal government to pay judgments or any other unfunded needs and unfortunately HUD’s approval to pay came without any additional funds. HABC must have specific approval from HUD to reach resolution on these cases. Payment of the judgments will impact the agency’s ability to provide housing vouchers for approximately 700 families in need this year. The agency will only pay outstanding judgments on cases that are not on appeal.