The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

April 23, 2013

Housing authority cracking down on tenants

Randy Griffith

JOHNSTOWN — Reeling from what they see as a negative public image, Johnstown Housing Authority members are pressing for a crackdown on troublemakers in the city’s subsidized housing units.

Executive Director Daniel Kanuch outlined steps being taken, but said he needs more cooperation from city hall.

“I asked the city for a list of properties where nuisance complaints were filed to see of any of them are our properties,” Kanuch said at the authority meeting Tuesday.

“I have not received a response.”

His staff regularly checks newspaper reports and arrest records to see if any tenants have been involved in criminal activity, thus violating their leases, Kanuch said.

Now he has asked for a list of properties cited under Johnstown’s disruptive properties ordinance. Kanuch said he will compare that list to the privately owned rental units participating in the authority-managed federal Section 8 subsidized housing program.

Kanuch said he has sent the city two requests over the past three weeks, but received no reply.

“That kind of cooperation would be helpful,” authority member Jean Tanaka said. “I think the city should cooperate with us.”

Solicitor Timothy Leventry warned that the housing authority can’t evict tenants from Section 8 housing units. Those tenants have leases with the property owners, not the authority. The housing authority pays the property owner a federal subsidy for qualified rentals.

“The housing authority does not have the right to terminate the lease,” Leventry explained. “It has the right to terminate the payment (to the landlord).”

The city also can take action against tenants and landlords under the disruptive property ordinance, Leventry said, suggesting Kanuch contact the city codes enforcement office.

Chairman Brian Vuletich said the authority does not have to put up with problem tenants, pointing to the waiting list for subsidized housing.

“When you have 500 people on the waiting list to get in this program, we need to develop a policy to work with the city,” Vuletich said.