5 years ago

SHOCK REPORT: Alabamians making six figures are living in government housing

(WPMI Screenshot)
(WPMI Screenshot)

MOBILE, Ala. — A report by the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development revealed this week that thousands of families across the country living in public housing are “overincome,” or making more income than qualifies them for taxpayer subsidized housing, including more than 800 in Alabama.

According to the Department’s report, “Public housing authorities provided public housing assistance to as many as 25,226 families whose income exceeded HUD’s 2014 eligibility income limits.  Of these 25,226 families, 17,761 had earned more than the qualifying amount for more than 1 year.”

HUD, however, only requires residents to prove their income falls under the income limit when they move into the housing, but not after. In 2004 the Department gave discretion to local public housing authorities whether or not they would enforce the income limits after a resident had moved in.

“The 15 housing authorities that [HUD] contacted choose to allow overincome families to reside in public housing.  HUD did not encourage them to require overincome families to find housing in the unassisted market.”

In Alabama the report found 812 cases of these so-called “overincome” families and individuals living in subsidized housing.

While some of the families overincome only exceeded the limit, which differs based on the location and size of family, by a few hundred dollars, others made tens of thousands. One case in Crenshaw County revealed a family income of $153,016—more than $119,000 over the limit.

In all, there were 6 Alabama families or individuals found who have an annual income of more than $100,000 still living in taxpayer funded housing.

“I make minimum wage, and I wish I did make enough money to get my family out,” Mobile public housing resident Todrick Davis told WPMI.

As a result of these overincome residents, the report states, “HUD did not assist as many low-income families in need of housing as it could have.”

In fact, the Inspector General concluded, HUD will pay $104.4 million over the next year for public housing units occupied by overincome families that otherwise could have been used to house low-income families.

“I wish I could say I was shocked, but I’m not,” said Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL1). “This is just another reason why we need to look at a total rethink and reform of all those programs because we are wasting taxpayer dollars, and we don’t have ’em to waste.”


9 hours ago

Ivey tours battered Gulf Coast; Area officials say progress being made, ask for patience

MOBILE – Alabama Governor Kay Ivey toured via helicopter on Friday the parts of Alabama hit hardest by Hurricane Sally. She was accompanied at two different stops by several local officials who praised how the response had gone so far, but warned there was much work left to do.

The governor in public remarks called seeing the damage firsthand an “eye-opener,” saying the reality could not be properly conveyed by the news broadcasts she watched before traveling down on Friday.

“The damage is huge, our people are hurting,” she said of witnessing the destruction. “I’m sure it could be worse, but from what I’ve seen this morning in the flyover… it is really, really bad.”

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U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope), who represents the hardest hit parts of the state, was praised by Ivey and several other officials for his work on the hurricane response at the federal level.

Byrne explained that large supplies of water and other necessary relief supplies had been stored by the federal government at an old Air Force base in Selma last week, out of the reach of the storm.

He added that the supplies were now being brought to the area as he spoke around noon on Friday.

Baldwin County bore the brunt of the damage inflicted on the state by Sally. As of 5:30 p.m. on Friday, over 100,000 households remained without electricity. “For Baldwin County this storm is worse than Hurricane Ivan,” said Byrne.

The congressman said he has met with officials at the White House and FEMA, and he said every relevant federal resource would be forthcoming.

As reported by Yellowhammer News earlier in the day, thousands of people from across the United States are pitching in to help restore power in Baldwin County.

Yellowhammer News, in traveling through Baldwin to get to the governor’s event, noted continued long lines at gas stations with many citizens filling up red gas cans once they got to the pump.

 

One of Baldwin County’s commissioners, Billie Jo Underwood, joined the governor during a briefing at Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores.

“I want to stress that we need to continue to have patience,” Underwood told the public, urging those listening to follow signs put up by law enforcement and other first responders, who are working around the clock.

Underwood concluded by saying, “We are strong here in Baldwin County, we are resilient.”

The commissioner’s comments echoed Byrne, who said that Baldwin would have a full recovery, “but it won’t happen real quick.”

The governor said on Friday that her main mission for the day was to listen to local leaders to so she could best coordinate the state and federal response.

“We’ve already heard we need ice and water and food,” said Ivey.

Yellowhammer News spotted one church that was giving out free ice and had a long line with many interested.

(Henry Thornton/YHN)

One Baldwin County resident told Yellowhammer they had been forced to throw out all of their perishable food items, a situation the individual presumed was common in the area.

Across the bay in Mobile County the situation was far less dire, apart from the town of Dauphin Island which experienced a similar treatment to its counterparts on the Eastern Shore.

Around 37,000 households in Mobile County do not have electricity as of 5:30 p.m. on Friday.

“I’m proud to report the government is working here in Mobile County,” said Commissioner Jerry Carl on Friday, adding, “I’m proud to say politics have been pushed aside.”

Carl is the Republican nominee for Alabama’s Second Congressional District but did not mention his campaign for higher office on Friday.

He joined Ivey, U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL), Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson and a cadre of other local officials at a briefing at Dauphin Island’s city hall.

Stimpson said he wanted to join his fellow local officials in “thanking Governor Ivey and Senator Jones for their work.”

“We know the things that need to be done… We will come up with solutions,” remarked Stimpson.

Carl told Yellowhammer News after the official briefing ended that “getting the trees out of the yard and the power on is 99% of getting back to normal after a storm.”

“We are all used to that… we are Alabama tough,” Carl said of his neighbors on the coast.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

11 hours ago

University of Alabama System COVID-19 numbers continue to decline sharply — ‘You can be proud’

The University of Alabama System on Friday afternoon released its weekly update with COVID-19 related data from each of its three distinct institutions: the University of Alabama, the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH).

The data — covering the seven-day period from Friday, September 11, through Thursday, September 17 — was impressive for all three universities.

The University of Alabama saw another tremendous decline in the number of new cases week-over-week. This comes after the previous week showed a 65% decline in new cases compared to the week prior.

Only 119 students tested positive at UA in the latest period, compared to 294 positives the previous week.

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Another incredible sign at UA is the amount of quarantine/isolation rooms available on-campus. Only 3.88%% of these rooms are occupied (23/593).

Additionally, numbers at UAB and UAH continue to look good. In Birmingham, 18 students tested positive compared to 19 at UAH over the last week.

At UAB, only 2% of isolation rooms are being used (2/100 rooms); at UAH, that number is 26.4% (23/87 rooms).

Finally, sentinel testing of students, faculty and staff is ongoing System-wide, with less than 1% of individuals from this form of sample testing being positive. A release from the System advised this indicates a minimal rate of asymptomatic positive cases. System officials also explained this “demonstrates the effectiveness of the mitigation strategies that were imposed before the campuses reopened in August.”

Dr. Ricky Friend is dean of the College of Community Health Sciences at the University of Alabama and a member of the UA System Health and Safety Task Force.

“I am pleased to report that our number of daily cases, active cases and use of isolation and quarantine space have all dramatically declined,” Friend said in a Friday statement. “This is encouraging and reiterates that, when the health and safety precautions are followed, they work very well to contain and minimize cases across the UA campus and throughout the UA System.”

This week’s data comes seven days after Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, visited the University of Alabama for discussions with students, faculty and staff, as well as administrators and officials from the System and UA.

She effusively praised the System and university for their “strong leadership” and return-to-campus efforts as a whole, while urging everyone to continue following COVID-19 guidelines and orders.

RELATED: Birx: ‘Strong leadership’ from Univ. of Alabama System results in successful return-to-campus

At the latest UA System board of trustees meeting on Thursday, Chancellor Finis St. John confirmed the System’s Comprehensive Health and Safety Plan is working well.

“We faced worrisome trends on our campuses, but we were prepared. We addressed the issues as they arose and made informed decisions,” he outlined in the virtual meeting.

“We trusted our plan and our people, and everyone had the courage to see this through,” St. John added, thanking the trustees for setting the bar high to overcome historic challenges. “You can be proud of the innumerable people who have worked to execute your vision.”

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

12 hours ago

Former Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard’s attorneys ask for resentencing

Attorneys for former Alabama Speaker of the House Michael G. “Mike” Hubbard on Friday filed a motion for resentencing.

This comes seven days after Hubbard reported to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office to begin serving what is currently a four-year prison sentence. He is being held in Russell County and will eventually be turned over to the Alabama Department of Corrections.

Hubbard in 2016 was convicted on 12 of 23 ethics charges brought against him by the Alabama Attorney General’s Office.

One of those 12 convictions was reversed by the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals in August 2018. An additional five convictions were tossed by the Supreme Court of Alabama earlier this year.

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Although half of the original convictions have been tossed to-date, Hubbard still faces four years in prison, which was the original length of imprisonment imposed by the trial judge. Of the original charges brought against him, only 26% have stuck.

The new motion by Hubbard’s attorneys argues, “Give these changed circumstances and in the interest of justice, Hubbard respectfully requests that this Court resentence him…The convictions in this case alone have resulted in a wide range of punishments which include his removal from office, the loss of his right to vote, the divestment of his business interests, and his current incarceration.”

The motion further noted that Hubbard is not a danger to society. Hubbard’s counsel pointed to sentencing guidelines which state that “the sentence imposed in each case should call for the least restrictive sanction that is consistent with the protection of the public and the gravity of the crime.”

“Judges should be sensitive to the impact their sentences have on all components of the criminal justice system and should consider alternatives to long-term institutional confinement or incarceration in cases involving offenders whom the court deems to pose no serious danger to society,” counsel wrote.

“In short, from arrest to reentry into the community, a web of sanctions haunts defendants and their families,” the motion added. “An arrest and criminal charges alone can have a devastating impact. These hidden sanctions can have a more severe impact on the arrested or convicted, their children and their families than the immediate sentence.”

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

13 hours ago

NRA endorses six Republicans in Alabama’s U.S. House races

The National Rifle Association’s (NRA) political arm has released its grades and endorsements for candidates running for the United States House of Representatives, including incumbent members.

In Alabama, only the Seventh Congressional District did not see the NRA Political Victory Fund make an endorsement. This race only features U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07), who received an “F” grade. No Republican qualified to run.

The NRA did make an endorsement in each of Alabama’s two open-seat races.

In Alabama’s First Congressional District, the NRA is backing Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl, the Republican nominee. Carl will face Democrat James Averhart, who received an “F” grade. The Republican received an “AQ” grade, the highest possible rating for someone who has never been a legislator or in another position that decides Second Amendment-related policies.

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Holders of an “AQ” grade are officially described as: “A pro-gun candidate whose rating is based solely on the candidate’s responses to the NRA-PVF Candidate Questionnaire and who does not have a voting record on Second Amendment issues.”

In the Second Congressional District, the NRA endorsed former State Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise), who was awarded an “A” grade. Moore’s record in the Alabama House of Representatives was used along with the candidate questionnaire to formulate this grade. Democratic nominee Phyllis Harvey-Hall received an “F” grade.

“I appreciate being recognized for my support of the Second Amendment, but being recognized isn’t why I support our right to keep and bear arms,” Moore said in a statement. “I support our Second Amendment because it is the ultimate guarantee of our other freedoms. The Founders had to use firearms to free themselves from the tyranny of British rule, and they crafted the Second Amendment to make sure they could protect themselves from tyrants that might come later. They also recognized that firearms were essential to being able to defend one’s self, one’s family, and one’s property, and this is as true today as it was then.”

“I’ll continue to defend our Second Amendment, and all our other rights and freedoms, because I truly believe in them. I’m thankful for the NRA, for being an organized voice for millions of Second Amendment supporters, and I truly do appreciate their endorsement and giving me this ‘A’ rating,” he concluded.

The NRA also endorsed the incumbent Republican congressmen in the rest of the Yellowhammer State’s districts: U.S. Reps. Mike Rogers (AL-03), Robert Aderholt (AL-04), Mo Brooks (AL-05) and Gary Palmer (AL-06).

All of these members received an “A” grade besides Rogers, who scored an elusive “A+.”

RELATED: Tommy Tuberville lands highest possible NRA rating, Doug Jones gets a ‘D’

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

13 hours ago

Football preview: Troy treks to Murfreesboro for season opener vs. Middle Tennessee

Troy football coach Chip Lindsey knows that Middle Tennessee offensive coordinator Tony Franklin will make his Trojans defend the whole field when they open the season at 3 p.m. Saturday at Floyd Stadium in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

But Lindsey says that nothing is making his squad “defend the whole field” like the novel coronavirus.

“It’s definitely made you rethink some things,” the second-year Trojans coach said, referring to the need to adapt if players or coaches contract the virus. “It’s made you rethink some things from the standpoint of personnel. If you’re down to your third or fourth quarterback, what do you do then? If you’re short wideouts, does that change the way you play on offense? Or defensively if you’re short D-linemen? Does that make you play more odd fronts?

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“All those things are scenarios that we definitely had to think through,” Lindsey continued. “Even coaching-wise, what happens if one of our coaches tests positive for corona? We’ve got a play for that as well. I think the best thing we can do is just try to plan for the unexpected and somewhat hope it doesn’t happen. At the same time, if it does, we’ve got to handle that and move forward.”

The Troy coach calls 2020 the Year of the Unknown. “We’re gonna need everybody at some point,” Lindsey said.

Middle Tennessee opened its season last week with a 42-0 loss to Army.

The pandemic has left the college football schedule in the state with slim pickings this week as the Trojans are the only state team taking the field. UAB and South Alabama are off this week before they face one another next Thursday in Mobile.

Troy coach Chip Lindsey, players talk about their team and the season ahead from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

HIGH SCHOOLS

Class 7A: At 4-0, coach Cris Bell’s Oak Mountain team has climbed to No. 9 in the latest Alabama Sports Writers Association poll. The Eagles will be tested in their quest to remain undefeated as they leave the friendly confines of Heardmont Stadium to visit No. 3 Hoover.

Class 6A: Minor is 3-1 following its 33-28 fall to No. 4 Pinson Valley. This week, the Tigers welcome No. 5 Clay-Chalkville.

Class 5A: No. 5 Faith Academy hosts No. 2 St. Paul’s in a battle of unbeatens. Each is 4-0.

Class 4A: No. 1 American Christian (4-0) heads to No. 2 Bibb County (4-0).

Class 3A: No. 5 T.R. Miller (3-1) entertains No. 9 Bayside Academy (4-0).

Class 2A: Aliceville (3-1) welcomes Cold Springs (3-0).

Class 1A: No. 4 Maplesville (3-1) hosts Loachapoka (2-1).

AISA: Tuscaloosa Academy (1-2) ventures to No. 9 Patrician (2-1).

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)