Topic:
PUBLIC HOUSING; HOUSING (GENERAL); SOCIAL SERVICES; HOUSING FINANCE;
Location:
HOUSING - FINANCE;

OLR Research Report


November 12, 2002

 

2002-R-0896

SECTION 8 HOUSING IN EAST HARTFORD AND IMAGINEERS, LLC

 

By: Joseph R. Holstead, Research Analyst

You asked several questions about Section 8 housing in East Hartford: (1) how many vouchers are available for the town, (2) who issues them, (3) are they portable and if so how many people leave the town, and (4) how many Section 8 users come in from other towns and are their certificates designated for East Hartford.

Regarding Imagineers LLC, you asked: (1) who is in charge, (2) what is the company's background, (3) how many vouchers does it issue, (4) how many people using Imagineers' service find apartments in East Hartford, and (5) does Imagineers reimburse East Hartford?

SUMMARY

Section 8 is the federal rent subsidy program for low-income households. There are currently 984 Section 8 vouchers issued for East Hartford. The number is subject to change because as leases expire voucher holders may choose to leave the city. Public housing authorities (PHAs) and the Department of Social Services (DSS), or their contractors, administer Section 8 programs in Connecticut. More information on Section 8 is available in OLR Report 2002-R-0414, a copy of which is attached.

The East Hartford Public Housing Authority, D'Amelia & Associates LLC, and Imagineers LLC all issue vouchers for East Hartford. D'Amelia Associates screens Section 8 customers and manages the waiting list for the DSS, but it subcontracts with the East Hartford Housing Authority for actual voucher administration.

All Section 8 vouchers are portable, giving Section 8 voucher holders the right to live anywhere they can find eligible housing. Currently, 15 voucher holders are planning to move from East Hartford, while 100 voucher holders chose to move there from another PHA's jurisdiction. When a voucher holder moves from one PHA's jurisdiction to another, the receiving PHA normally takes over administration of the voucher funds and receives administration fees. But, Imagineers is an exception.

Imagineers LLC is a property management firm and Hartford's Section 8 program administrator. Vincent Dowling is CEO. Statewide, Imagineers issued 4,239 Section 8 vouchers currently in use; 269 of those voucher holders live in East Hartford as of October 15, 2002. Its voucher holders may move anywhere in the Hartford Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), including East Hartford, with Imagaineers retaining administrative rights and fees (i.e., without reimbursing the other towns) due to an understanding with the United States Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) local office.

EAST HARTFORD AND SECTION 8 VOUCHERS

Nine hundred eighty-four families currently use Section 8 vouchers in East Hartford. Three agencies issues them: (1) East Hartford's Housing Authority, (2) D'Amelia Associates, and (3) Imagineers LLC. Table one below shows the number each agency issues.

Table 1: Section 8 Housing Vouchers Issued for East Hartford

Issuing

Agency:

East Hartford PHA

(current to October 2002)

D'Amelia & Associates LLC

(current to November 1, 2002)

Imagineers LLC

(current to October 15, 2002)

Number of Vouchers:

407

308

269

PORTABILITY

Section 8 voucher holders may choose to live in any dwelling that meets HUD requirements. HUD regulations stipulate that a housing authority issuing a voucher to a family who moves out of its jurisdiction must give administrative rights and fees to the receiving housing authority – that is, to the PHA in the city or town to which the family moves (24 CFR 982.355). But Imagineers LLC does not have to follow HUD's portability regulation for East Hartford or other towns within Hartford's MSA. In 1990, HUD gave Hartford regional control of its Section 8 vouchers within its MSA.

Portability in East Hartford

Currently, 100 Section voucher holders living in East Hartford came from another PHA's jurisdiction. Fifteen voucher holders in East Hartford (10 whose vouchers just expired and five whose vouchers will expire shortly) will likely choose to move to another town as their leases expire, Paisley said.

IMAGINEERS LLC

Imagineers is a property management company that also administers Hartford's Section 8 program. Founded in 1973 by Hartford businessman Arthur Anderson, the Webster Investment Group and 15 of Imagineers senior staff acquired ownership in 2001. Vincent Dowling Jr. took Anderson's position as head of the company.  Anderson will remain with the company until 2008, according to a May 19, 2001 article in the Hartford Courant and Kenneth Schultz, Imagineers' program management director. Imagineers is based in Hartford and has managed the city's Section 8 voucher program since 1976. Imagineers, with branches in Shelton and Waterbury, also manages voucher programs for Wethersfield, Newington, South Windsor, and East Haven.

As the crux of its business, Imagineers manages over 14,000 condominium units and approximately 800 apartments. It is the largest condominium management service organization in New England, according to its website. It also (1) has maintenance, construction, and landscape divisions; (2) employs over 150 people; and (3) bills about $9 million annually, according to its website. For more information see: http://www.imagineersllc.com.

Imagineers issued 4,239 Section 8 vouchers currently in use, Schultz said; 269 of those voucher holders live in East Hartford as of October 15, 2002.

Imagineers and Hartford's MSA

Both the city and the housing authority receive Section 8 funding from HUD. Imagineers administers the city's Section 8 program, which is separate from Hartford Housing Authority's. According to Schultz, due to a threat of legal action by the Connecticut Civil Liberties Union, Hartford presented a legal opinion to HUD in 1990 arguing that Hartford should have a portability provision, giving it jurisdiction over the greater Hartford area (i.e., over the Hartford MSA). It argued such portability would expand opportunities for Hartford's Section 8 voucher holders. HUD accepted Hartford's argument and approved Hartford's administrative plan, accepted the request for jurisdiction over its MSA, and excluded it from release of administrative funds (i.e., allowing the PHA in the receiving town to receive an administrative fee). Imagineers therefore does not compensate the local housing authorities when its Section 8 voucher holders find housing in Hartford's MSA.

Copies of the 1990 legal opinion and letters (1) to HUD dated June 5, 1990 from Hartford's Housing and Community Development director at the time and (2) from HUD's Hartford office dated June 29, 1990, are attached.

JRH:ro