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FYI FROM SEN. MALONE

The following material is being published, unedited, exactly as it was received via e-mail from the office of the government official named, as a Source community service. Government office holders wishing to contribute to the FYI bulletin board must e-mail source@viaccess.net. The Source reserves the right to choose what is published.
NEW HOUSING LATE FEES AFFECTING SENIOR CITIZENS
(Charlotte Amalie, U.S. Virgin Islands, October 28, 2003) Today, Senator Shawn-Michael Malone expressed his growing concerns regarding the effects that the revised public housing leases have on the senior citizens who reside in the Territory's public housing communities.
In a letter written to HUD Receivership Director, Donna Ayala, Senator Malone expressed his concern about the time rent is due based on a number of complaints his office has been receiving about this issue. The revised public housing leases says, "Rent payments will not be considered delinquent after the tenth calendar day of each month and rent collection efforts will be initiated." The revised lease goes on to say, "If the tenant fails to make payments by the 10th day of the month, a late fee of $25.00 shall be assessed."
"The problem with this revised policy unfortunately is that most senior citizens receiving social security, welfare, or utility assistance checks do not receive their assistance until the 15th of each month," Senator Malone explained. The Virgin Islands Housing Authority requests payment of rental fees on the 1st of every month with a nine day grace period thereafter. "This new policy, based on the many calls I have received from concerned residents, will make it impossible for them to pay their rent on time. It is as simple as that," Senator Malone continued. "It is a requirement this segment of the housing community just cannot fulfill," Senator Malone emphasized.
In his letter to Mrs. Ayala, Senator Malone asked the housing director to consider making special allowances for senior citizens. "I must add that many of these persons are on a fixed income and have become very accustomed to the rent policy before this new change. Because of their age and times that many receive their income, I am asking that you be sympathetic to this and respectfully request that you accommodate the senior citizens in some way that would give them a different grace period to do their banking, pay on time and avoid monthly late fees," Senator Malone wrote.
"It is my hope that the officials at HUD recognize this conflict and make the necessary adjustments in the lease agreement or make some allowances for those senior citizens who fall within this area of apparent conflict," Senator Malone said.
Senator Malone also wrote to Virgin Islands Congressional Delegate, the Honorable Donna M. Christensen, apprising her of this situation and enlisting her assistance.

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