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Rebuilding Aliso Village

November 01, 1998

Just a few comments on Jacqueline Leavitt's "A Public-Housing Policy That Says Fewer Units Is More" (Opinion, Oct. 25).

Aliso Village is 56 years old, riddled with deteriorated building systems, structural problems and lead-based paint, and is unsafe. Unfortunately, all residents would have to be relocated and demolition performed whether we received a HOPE VI grant or not. If the law allowed it (which it doesn't) and if the money were available, the cost of rehabbing would be $66.3 million and would have to be an outright grant, since the law prohibits debt on public housing units. The average rent of $187 a month doesn't support debt adequately enough to meet the cost, even if the law permitted it.

Fortunately, we will be able to build back 269 units of public housing with the HOPE VI grant and leverage 114 units of affordable housing, as well as 66 units of homeownership. This mixed-income community will make for a much safer neighborhood, especially with the commercial improvements planned, and will generate a lot of self-sufficiency opportunities for all residents.

DONALD J. SMITH, Exec. Dir., Housing Authority, Los Angeles

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Leavitt writes that the Housing Authority manipulated us. That's not true. We live in precarious conditions, and we are fighting for a better future for our residents.

When we hold meetings to inform the residents about proposed changes and how the HOPE VI application will affect them, Union de Vecinos Unidos comes in with 10 or 15 instigators to disrupt the meeting and prevent the hundreds of residents in attendance from sharing the information. Then they complain we don't provide residents information about the HOPE VI application.

DAVID OCHOA, President, Aliso Village Resident, Management Corp., L.A.

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