Home Buyers Accuse Houston Housing Authority of Deception, Fraud - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

Home Buyers Accuse Houston Housing Authority of Deception, Fraud

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They turned to the Houston Housing Authority to become first-time home buyers, but several low-income families claim what they got instead were lies, heartaches and the runaround.

"I have no doubt in my mind that they were going above and beyond ridiculous," said Brianne Hassan.

During the summer of 2009, the Houston Housing Authority put 'for sale' signs on approximately 200 homes under its ownership. The Housing Authority had let those homes deteriorate, but for many low income families, it was the chance of a lifetime to become homeowners.

"We have no idea why it didn't go down because we were the perfect candidate," said Madison Hassan.
"
We're very responsible, we don't have a lot of debt and we still can't afford to buy a house," said Madison's wife, Brianne.

With an income of less that $48,000 a year and his war veteran status, Hassan and his family of six tried for months to buy one of the homes.

"Every time we would fill one of their requirements, they would make a handful more," said Brianne Hassan.

The Hassans and other families tell FOX 26 Investigates that the Houston Housing Authority would ignore promises made in written contracts and did all it could to stop sales from actually taking place.

"In 20 years of real estate, I've never seen anything like it," said Stacey Perry, a real estate agent who worked with clients trying to buy the Housing Authority properties.

The Houston Housing Authority admitted to FOX 26 Investigates that its track record for selling the homes is dismal.

"We've only closed on seven homes since July," said Dennis Spellman with the Housing Authority. That is seven out of almost 200 homes up for sale.

"Yeah, it's frustrating isn't it?," said Spellman.

What is really frustrating, according to some people, is what the Houston Housing Authority did after the first report by FOX 26 Investigates. Claiming it did not have enough low-income buyers, the Housing Authority decided to sell the homes, which average approximately $50,000 to anyone interested, no matter how much money they have or make.

"I think there's some fraudulent activity here," said attorney Patrick Ngwolo. The attorney represents the Hassans as well as the McCrackens, another couple who tried to buy one of the homes. He does not believe the Housing Authority could not find enough low-income families to qualify.

"I believe there are hundreds of plaintiffs this has happened to," said Ngwolo.

The lawsuit filed against the Houston Housing Authority accuses the agency of fraud, breach of contract and deceptive trade practices.

"Somebody needs to be held accountable for what has happened," said Ngwolo.

Ngwolo got a temporary restraining order filed against the Housing Authority to stop it from selling homes to people who do not qualify as low income.

In a prepared response, the Houston Housing Authority states, "The HHA administers its home ownership program in accordance with rules set up by HUD and in neither case did the McCrackens nor the Hassans qualify to purchase a home. The matter is now in court and we are confident in our position."

According to the lawsuit, while the Houston Housing Authority took months to get paperwork to potential buyers, it cashed earnest money checks from those folks within a matter of days.

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