Letter to the editor: Mammoth Lakes Housing responds to claims

Housing Director Pam Hennarty and Housing Board member Kirk Stapp at Mammoth Town Council meeting.

(Sierra Wave Media asked Pam Hennarty, Mammoth Lakes Housing Director, to respond to a website comment that accused the housing program of allowing “illegal aliens” to stack up occupants in workforce housing, among other complaints.  Following is her response.)

Mammoth Lakes Housing provides affordable homes to people who live and work in the Town of Mammoth Lakes. There are several misconceptions in the community regarding our rental and for sale properties. I would like to address some of these concerns. With regard to rental property, Mammoth Lakes Housing is required to follow Federal Fair Housing Laws. Fair Housing Laws do not allow MLH to inquire about a person or families legal status. The Federal Government is responsible for the illegal immigration issues and are also responsible for the laws that prohibit this organization from asking about that status. MLH provides homes to people who serve our community. Regardless of how someone came to live in Mammoth, every member of this community deserves a safe, decent, affordable place to live.

Many of the units that MLH owns and operates were funded with State and Federal grants that come with very specific occupancy and monitoring standards. Mammoth Lakes faced overcrowding in many units prior to the development of units by Mammoth Lakes Housing. Rents were at an unaffordable level to the many service working families in this community. We have worked to solve this problem and we do not allow it in our units. We allow 2 people per bedroom. We have on-site managers who are on the property daily, who watch cars, and who is coming and going. We also require each year that each tenant certify their household size.

Mammoth Lakes Housing offers home buyers multiple options including the very successful homebuyer assistance program, and the option to purchase a below market deed restricted unit. Real estate is not affordable. Prices have come down, but so have wages and job opportunities. Deed restricted housing is still a viable option for many households. The California Department of Real Estate prohibits restricting the sale of a  home beyond terms that are agreed to at the time of purchase, additionally, if a buyer were to agree to restrictions there must be very specific conditions that must be met in order for the restrictions to be lifted. These State regulations are applicable to affordable housing units. Over the years there have been many different deed restrictions variations that have been used to restrict property.

In the early days of affordable housing in Mammoth Lakes the restrictions did not have strenuous requirements and as the economy shifted several of the higher income homes had depreciated along with the market rate housing and the deed restriction value was above market rate value. In those instances it did not make sense for MLH to repurchase the unit and while market rates had declined significantly from purchase prices it could have resulted in a windfall to the homeowner, although with market conditions it seems unlikely. Mammoth Lakes Housing, in 2009 worked closely with our affordable housing attorneys to strengthen these restrictions including language that requires any potential windfall to be repaid to the jurisdiction for use in the affordable housing programs. The California Department of Real Estate requires that we lift deed restrictions if certain conditions are met.

Pam Hennarty

Executive Director

Mammoth Lakes Housing, Inc.

P.O. Box 260

587 Old Mammoth Road #5

Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546




13 Responses to Letter to the editor: Mammoth Lakes Housing responds to claims

  1. Your Time is UP November 9, 2012 at 3:33 pm #

    Pam has done some very good things for the community, however she has made some very poor decisions that have had some very serious consequences.. There has been a foreclosure of some sort. Several of the projects went unsold and then went to no full time residents. This is not what we bargained for. Pam is just looking to protect her inflated salary.

    • Benett Kessler November 9, 2012 at 10:36 pm #

      What are the poor decisions and “consequences”?

  2. what next November 9, 2012 at 11:21 pm #

    One is that the DIF fees or grant money collected were wasted on a building Henerty lost in a forclosure , short sale or something. I think the town bailed her out on that.
    Then there were the debt services for all the units that were built and not sold as low income. Those units were eventually sold to regular buyers. The tax payer , developer paid for those poor decisions. I wish I had the ability to get bailed out and still make such a salary. You or i would be out on the street. The whole thing is mismanaged. Wood said it , MLH had a big budget and spent it then the town reneged on the payments. In other words MLH had unrealistic Budget. Just cuz you gots the dough does not mean you have to spend it all. That is called mismanagement. Do you need more BK? I really don’t have the time to dig into all the books. Hennarty claims that MLH is a great success. I agree it has help many people. What has been the cost per person/ Family.
    MLH needs to go and Hennarty with it. BK i would have an accountant look at the books if I were able to.

    • Benett Kessler November 9, 2012 at 11:47 pm #

      That might be a good idea to get more facts. Councilman Wood said at the meeting that the Town began to cut the budget of MLH and that’s why some of the money issues came up. Tax Measure A was designed to give housing some $800,000. They have gotten less than half of that for some time.

      • Your Time is UP November 10, 2012 at 9:35 am #

        That does not mean you waste it on luxuries you cannot afford! They purchased a building beyond their reasonable means. They lost it. They gave it back to the lender. I think they purchased it at the height of the market. Maybe there is a story there too.
        Measure A was supposed to influx 800k then there was the Dif and in lieu fees paid by developers. Pam had a tough job and did some good. but her time is up. The ride is over. She needs to resign. There needs to be a complete Audit. The cost per family assisted is too great.

        MLH is not the only privatized entity that needs some checks.

      • what next November 12, 2012 at 7:23 pm #

        Just because you have such a large budget does not mean that you spend it wastefully.

  3. Huh? November 10, 2012 at 7:26 pm #

    Good advice, Benett. By their own admission, and clearly by the comments, these two are uneducated on the situation, which is fine, but why take such an extreme position. Hennarty has done a great job for the Community. The mistakes you speak of, buying office space, applying for grants, and building projects are all decisions voted on by the Board – not an individual. I also understand from the meeting this week that this is one of the only Town supported entities that not only balanced their budget but carried a surplus. I am not a champion of Housing, but think it is a wiser decision to keep it rather than have to write multi- million dollar checks to pay back grants. Just a funny position to take, “I don’t know much about it, and don’t really want to learn….. But… She Needs To Resign!” Haha. Classic.

  4. concerned November 10, 2012 at 8:15 pm #

    in other words, yes. but its ok because they dont question legal status

  5. ferdinand lopez November 11, 2012 at 12:38 pm #

    if businesses wouldnt hire illegals they wouldnt be looking for a place to live,and if the city is getting reimbursed by the state for housing,you better believe they dont care whos paying the rent

    • Benett Kessler November 11, 2012 at 12:55 pm #

      On the other hand, who be doing all of the service work in Mammoth Lakes?

      • J.J. November 11, 2012 at 4:14 pm #

        Service work or low wage, under the table, violating federal and state labor laws type work?

        • Benett Kessler November 11, 2012 at 6:25 pm #

          The service jobs that amount to the infrastructure of a tourist town.

  6. ferdinand lopez November 11, 2012 at 8:27 pm #

    properly pay legal citizens


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