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Harry C. Alford NNPA Columnist
Published: 29 June 2010

(NNPA) - One of the biggest corruption and racist actions are that of the Poverty Pimping Industrial Complex. The PPIC spends a lot of activity raking in money from HUD grants (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development).
Their premise is this: A hefty poverty level is a guarantee for serious federal funding. Thus, the perpetrators ensure that the poverty levels remain high and it is preferable to assign it to Blacks and Hispanics. They lack real power and the White powers don't care. With HUD money they want to keep the Blacks and Hispanics in the projects and the White poor in single family homes (Section 8). Make affordable housing available to White income levels but out of reach of Black and Hispanic income levels.
This is why Section 3 of the HUD Act is not complied with by HUD grantees and not enforced by HUD officials. Section 3 has been on the books for 42 years (1968) and has not become enforceable yet. It states that 30 percent of all new jobs funded by HUD should go to people living in public housing or under the poverty level. Thus, the more HUD money that is spent; the more jobs created for our people and the poverty levels will decrease. 98 percent of the housing authorities, cities, counties, states, etc. do not want this to happen. They will not comply; HUD will not enforce and our unemployment levels rise to 30 percent in our urban areas. It is an organized conspiracy and a mass execution of fraud.
We have been fighting this criminal/racist practice from city to city and housing authority to housing authority. It gets a bit overwhelming when elected officials allow the PPIC headed by labor unions and dirty public employees to run roughshod over our people living in poverty.
Recently, however, I came upon the "perfect storm". It is in Richmond, Va., a predominantly Black city controlled by a minority of evil Whites and stupid Black gatekeepers. An opportunity to bust this "poverty bubble" came when HUD allocated an approximately $60 million HOPE VI project entitled "Blackwell HOPE VI". Of course the $60 million was padded for these 106 affordable homes as they desired to block potential Black families from buying them and they wanted to pocket the excess money like they usually do.
The Richmond Redevelopment Housing Authority has a deep reputation for corruption. It is widely known in the city that "envelopes" exchange hands. This is a reference to the practice of kickbacks and bribery. It was recently detected during a Freedom of Information Act request that this agency had a continuing budget item known as "clotheslines". That's right good old clotheslines – cheap and simple. However, over the last 10 years they supposedly have spent over $9 million in clotheslines. Of course they didn't. This appears to be a slush fund for the "envelopes" activity. $9 million of HUD money used as a criminal slush fund and the government doesn't seem to care.
Back to the Blackwell HOPE VI project. A group of the largest Black owned development and construction companies joined forces to compete for this project and they figured by complying with Section 3 they could have the advantage. After all, it was the law and the other competitors would ignore it. They formed a separate, all Black, corporation. It had over 130 years of experience with a comprehensive scope made to order for the project. They even had cash on hand, $60 million+, to perform the task plus credit letters from four reputable banks. They could do the work required and had the cash on hand to complete the job. Plus, they had designated 140 jobs for Section 3 residents. That's right they were going to take 140 people living in poverty and even some ex-offenders and put them in the job market. One hundred and forty Black families were about to leave poverty just as Section 3 intends for them to. It looked like a slam dunk.
However, the Richmond Redevelopment Housing Authority denied them the opportunity and selected another bidder who had no Section 3 inclusion (violating federal law). The big problem was that this Black company was going to play by the rules and have nothing to do with the typical bribery, kickback schemes, etc. It was honest and that goes against the PPIC. What seemed to be undeniable was denied.
HUD won't investigate. The Department of Justice refuses to investigate. Sens. Mark Warner and Jim Webb along with Black Congressman Bobby Scott won't pick up the phone and ask for an investigation. Richmond's Black mayor, Dwight C. Jones, won't pick up the phone either. You see you may never know who gets those "envelopes" and who you might bust. It is time to find out. We are going to fight this one. Somehow we are going to force an investigation.
Harry Alford is the co-founder, President/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce ®. Website: www.nationalbcc.org. Email: [email protected]

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