LETTER: Blaming Duran is simply wrong

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By The Staff

The recent attempt by city officials, former housing directors, former mayor Henry Sanchez, hired consultants and the media, to blame Floyd Duran, Housing and Urban Development representative for the federal government for the city housing situation, is a copout. The only thing I have heard out of their mouth is innuendo, “mitote” and a let’s blame someone else except ourselves attitude. Haven’t they read the HUD reports? Where have they been these last three years?

Anyone familiar with the HUD report, which landed the city housing in a troubled status, would base their conclusions on what’s in the report as facts, no on vindictive statements made by a disgruntled former HUD employee as well as those by the City Council, the mayor and former housing directors. The HUD report details mismanagement of federal monies, co-mingling of funds, conflicts of interest, fraud, failure to follow federal guidelines on federal funding, deception, misrepresentation and failure to provide adequate housing for low income families in our community. Anyone who has not seen the report, please obtain copies from HUD or the city.

You will see for yourself that this charade is doing more damage to our community than former city officials, housing administrators, current city officials and hired consultants put together (at least they are all in the same basket).

In order to not keep everyone in suspense, here is some of what is in the report. The city was found to have lied in their application for the $6 million Hope VI project. The city, without HUD approval, sold 20 remodeled housing units for below the market value. The houses were to be sold to low income families. Duran specifically told former director Lawrence Quintana that he should not sell the units due to some conflicts. Quintana sold them anyway. The city deceived HUD in the number of vacancies (over 100 units) and continued to collect subsidies for vacant units which were supposed to be remodeled. Despite the number of vacancies, the waiting list for housing continued to grow (some units have been vacant for as long as five years). I guess some people believe that as long as they have a roof over their head, forget about the ones who were kicked out into the street.

It was not Floyd Duran who spent thousands of dollars in tenants’ money for a party at the Plaza Hotel. The party was attended by two city councilman, former housing directors, staff, etc. When Duran found out, he informed the city that the use of tenant money for a private party was illegal and that all the participants needed to reimburse housing. The names and the amount owed are listed in the HUD report. It was not Floyd Duran who allowed the expenditure of $100,000 to remodel a building for Somos Familia. Floyd was also not the one who allowed the city to contract with a then-sitting councilman to use his business (total conflict of interest) to sell material to housing, to the tune of over hundreds of thousands of dollars. There is much more in the HUD report but this should suffice to give you an idea of the kind of activity that took place and blatant disregard for others.

It is a shame that our city is going back to its old tactics of divisiveness and cheap shots. Instead of all of us working together to help better our community, we’re beginning to realize that our city’s old habits never die. Instead of helping those who really need the help, all they do is help themselves; but keep putting politicians into office instead of realists. Keep backing those who only care to line their pockets.

I applaud Floyd Duran and HUD for their efforts in complying with the law and for preventing the possibility that federal investigations could have led to federal grand jury actions which would have put the city on equal footing with the West Las Vegas bilingual fiasco. We also do no believe that Floyd Duran “used” us as mentioned by Lawrence Quintana in the Optic. The truth of the matter is that we used him to try and rid housing of all non-compliance issues, violations of federal law and self serving individuals while at the same time trying to provide adequate housing, safe playgrounds, tenant services, after school programs, tenant transportation, etc.

Thank you Floyd Duran! The rest of you please learn the facts and apply them to reality. The more we understand the problem, the more we can work together to solve it.

“Que viva HUD.”

Lorenzo Flores

Concerned Citizens Committee

Las Vegas