PCRI: Working for a Good Cause but Neighbors Question How Successfully

If you live in Northeast Portland, chances are that Portland Community Reinvestment Initiatives is one of your neighbors. As one of the largest community development corporations in North and Northeast Portland with 700 rental houses and apartments, PCRI helps define what our neighborhood is like.

The non-profit organization was born from the housing discrimination scandals of the ‘60’s through the ‘80’s such as redlining and the abandonment of the area by traditional lenders culminating in the Dominion Capital case where aspiring homeowners were being bilked with excessive interest rates and contracts designed to prevent the accumulation equity. PCRI executive director, Maxine Fitzpatrick sat down with me to discuss PCRI’s mission, operations, and recent incidents at one of their complexes. Ms. Fitzpatrick explained how PCRI set out to keep housing in the long-term, mostly minority residents’ hands and slow the wave of displacement taking place due to gentrification:

“The Oregonian did the exposé that exposed Dominion Capital and their fraudulent practices. After that exposé they filed for bankruptcy so rather than let those 350 families that were living in those properties be displaced and the properties picked up by speculators, they formed PCRI to purchase the homes. At the time about 70 of those properties still had an active land sale contract so our goal was to work with those families to make them legitimate owners and keep the other 272 as affordable rentals because that’s what they were at the time. So that’s how we were formed—to purchase that portfolio.”

King neighborhood, once overwhelmingly African-American and mostly poor by the late ‘80’s, is now much more diverse ethnically, economically, and culturally. With diversity, often comes strain and misunderstanding. While residents generally value the improvements in the housing that has come with the influx of new, younger, residents fixing up older homes, community development corporations strive to provide the most housing for the very limited available dollars. Standards for housing construction, maintenance and upkeep, as well as resident screening and oversight are set by the CDC which has a primary mission to provide housing for the surplus of those who cannot afford market rate options. As a result, homeowners and subsidized housing residents’ dreams of living in safe and peaceful neighborhoods sometime intersect with the jarring realities of life.

Some residents on 10th Avenue have witnessed drug use and dealing by a PCRI resident, marijuana blunts and baggies in the street, loud parties late at night and fights in the street due to residents or visitors over a period of over two years. Three separate units in one complex were the sources of these complaints. Ms. Fitzpatrick seemed to be unaware of a pattern of problems at this location:

“This is only the second time that we’ve had a situation where residents are complaining about tenants. It’s not that common.”

Email records show that Ms. Fitzpatrick, and other PCRI staff were contacted regarding eight incidents regarding drug dealing, fights outside and loud parties late at night during that time. PCRI used a private property management company until mid 2009 and did not actively get involved with the complex’s operation until then.

One such incident was the night of September 6th near the intersection of 10th and Alberta. A relative of a PCRI resident who is a regular visitor got in to a loud argument in the street with another woman. Police responded and the fight ceased for a time until it re-erupted later this time with several people involved beating each other with sticks. Before police responded again, someone fired several shots into the air. When they did arrive, the suspect was gone and one woman was found with her teeth knocked out.

In the wake of this incident, several neighbors contacted PCRI’s Executive Director and members of the PCRI board including Chair Melvin Oden-Orr to urge action. Mr. Oden-Orr responded that PCRI was looking into the matter. But in an interview with this reporter on the 15th, Executive Director Maxine Fitzpatrick said that the incident did not seem to warrant a response from PCRI.

“. . . When I finally got to reading what one of the residents stated and their message was different than what the police indicated when the staff talked to them. . . It was a different tone; it was a different set of circumstances; it was a different degree of violence. We see things differently; I understand that . . . so when the police reported out, it didn’t seem . . . like ‘it was a really, really horrible thing and you guys got to do something about it.’ It was ‘this happened and yeah, somebody did shoot a gun in the air and we’re looking into it’ and that’s kind of it. From what I understand is that everyone who was involved in that wasn’t even from the neighborhood. They didn’t live there. They came from somewhere else.”

However, the neighbor involved is a resident of another PCRI complex across the street. By Ms. Fitzpatrick’s own admission, the “. . . lady whose daughter that the incident rose from at her house . . . her daughter came over and then her daughter got into it with the neighbor across the street and that’s where the fight and everything erupted—it didn’t erupt with the lady that lived there. It was her guest and the truth of the matter is: I’m responsible for the behavior of my guests. So she is definitely responsible for the behavior of her daughter.”

In fact, the Portland Chronic Nuisance Property Code, (chapter 14B.60), states: “If your property is used repeatedly for a range of defined behaviors –including drug dealing, theft, harassment, assault, disorderly conduct and others – you may face closure of your property and other civil penalties for failing to take action to stop the problem.”

When asked if PCRI could exclude non-residents, Ms. Fitzpatrick seemed uncertain: “I’m not sure if the law, which is what we have to follow, gives us the right to exclude a certain person from another person’s home. I don’t know if it does that or not.”

Since mid-summer two of the units that were sources of neighbor concerns are now vacant. Ms. Fitzpatrick said that the resident accused of drug-dealing was not evicted, but left on his own. But since his moving out, he has been seen frequently in the neighborhood, driving his late model luxury SUV to the complex and even re-entering his old unit. Residents have witnessed him continuing to deal drugs on the street.

Aside from a few troublesome tenants, PCRI faces other troubles as well. It struggles to provide the housing capacity it was formed to provide. With an original portfolio acquired from the Dominion Capital bankruptcy, PCRI had about 70 home purchasers were in danger of losing their homes due to bad mortgage terms. PCRI worked to rewrite the loans so the families were not displaced. The remaining 272 homes were rentals when PCRI acquired them and PCRI kept them as affordable rentals. One hundred of those were vacant when Ms. Fitzpatrick was hired to run the organization.

After the city pressured several smaller CDC’s to merge in the late ‘90’s, PCRI resisted. Two others were merged to form Albina Community Development Corporation. After this CDC subsequently failed, its portfolio was acquired by PCRI, doubling its number of housing units to nearly 700. But as its portfolio has grown, its vacancy rate, the percentage of units unoccupied at a time, remains above average. In 2000 PCRI’s vacancy rate was 2.5%; in 2004, 9%. Today it to 7% or 51 units. By comparison, REACH CDC Executive Director, Dee Walsh described their own vacancy rate of 3.5% as “a little high right now” compared to their usual 2%. Sabin CDC, a small housing provider in Northeast Portland with 46 rental units has three current vacancies or 6.5% and Rose CDC has a 2-3% vacancy rate.

When asked about the length of vacancy, all of the CDC’s reported the same time frame: from a couple of days to two weeks. PCRI however has units and houses that sit unoccupied for months to over a year. One such house, a little over two blocks from the complex at 10th and Alberta lost its last two families of renters after both complained about a lack of action by PCRI to maintenance requests. After the roof leaked to the point part of the ceiling collapsed, PCRI put a tarp on the roof but the leak continued and the family moved out. Since then the roof remains tarped and the house remains vacant a year later. Maxine Fitzpatrick said that PCRI is focusing its maintenance efforts on its occupied housing and acknowledged it has a backlog and federal subsidies require units stay occupied. In the meantime, PCRI is not compiling a waiting list for the non-project based housing and not actively seeking new renters for them. This leaves the organization in a Catch-22 scenario where the rental income needed to fund repairs is reduced; and more units and houses can’t be rented out to fund repairs.

“So we had to take units that had been heavily subsidized through project-based and get those units taken care of before we can go through and do our own units that are not in any special program. It is a HUD program so you basically have to get those units turned and back on line . . . prior to taking over the ACDC portfolio, we didn’t have any project based section eight units. All of our units were just regular affordable units. With that portfolio came some complexities that we didn’t have in our initial portfolio.”

With pressure to keep the new project based units on line, the maintenance staff is unable to keep pace with the original portfolio that was PCRI’s foundation. The units at 10th and Alberta are not project based and two of the six units on the east side are vacant as well as one of three on the other side of 10th. Another resident is due to move out soon. Asked whether many repairs were needed, Ms. Fitzpatrick said: “They do need some work but not a lot . . . don’t you think it’s more important to take care of living conditions where people are actually living there? I think our efforts to keep the lawns cut, keep the houses from being messed up, being just really derelict looking are important. That’s how we do that—we go in and take care of the people first then we go in and take care of the vacant units.”

“—We don’t allow graffiti.”

Over the years since the complex was built in 1999, the grass in front of the units has been trampled away to leave bare dirt plots. Graffiti mars the mailbox. Ms. Fitzpatrick doesn’t see much that needs attention: “if I go by there and look at that development, the thing that bothers me about it is I wish that we would power-wash the front of the house so that the dirt at the bottom of it gets clean. Other than that, it doesn’t look that much different than the other properties in the area.” When asked what PCRI’s graffiti policy is, she said definitively, “Same as the city’s policy—we don’t allow graffiti.” Though there is no indication the graffiti has been brought to PCRI’s attention, PCRI property management does not appear to employ a proactive or frequent survey of its properties. Instead, PCRI seems to have a complaint-based maintenance process. For the 700 properties in its portfolio, there are two property managers and one supervisor.

PCRI’s prioritization of attention means that some properties appear to be written off. One of PCRI’s properties was a long abandoned house at the corner of N. Exeter and N. Fessenden Streets. The house had been boarded up and was target of a series of neighbor complaints over at least five years concerning trash and debris, broken windows, overgrown yard and serial graffiti complaints. A city official described it as a chronic nuisance. This year, the house has been demolished to make way two new town homes nearing completion that will have LEED Silver/Gold, Earth Advantage and Energy Star certification and will participate in the City of Portland’s Build it Green! home tour, but the wait has been a long one.

Even houses that appear to be in good shape go up to six months between residents. A home on N. Commercial, whose photograph is featured in PCRI’s 2000 annual report, typically waits empty for that long between each occupancy according to a neighbor. “I don’t know what they’re waiting for,” she said.

“Our thanks to PCRI and Infinity in responding to the needs of their clients.”

Health and safety issues get neglected as well. An older resident in the PCRI apartments near 10th and Alberta had a smoke alarm whose battery was dying. The neighbors, who heard the constant beeping from next door for a year, requested that PCRI replace it. The resident told the neighbor that he had asked management to replace it as well. The Portland Fire Bureau responded that legally, the smoke detector is the resident’s responsibility to maintain. Apparently PCRI agreed. The resident passed away before the battery was replaced when the unit was cleaned out. The Fire Bureau did say in advance, however, “Our thanks to PCRI and Infinity (Property Management) in responding to the needs of their clients.”

Nearby, at another complex, the trash area consisting of a small dumpster and recycling bins sits adjacent to the sidewalk, covered with gang graffiti. Often, bags of food waste and dirty diapers miss their mark, making a pile in the fenced area that is the food source for a rat colony. For a period of weeks a box spring blocked the sidewalk and larger items spill out around the area.

Ms. Fitzpatrick attributes the negative view of PCRI properties to a lack of cultural understanding. As an example of how to positively work with PCRI she recounted an incident where a concerned neighbor of a property worked cooperatively with them to deal with a situation. The woman called to report that squatters were setting up a camp behind one of PCRI’s vacant houses. PCRI responded with the police to remove the squatters and the structure they were constructing in back of the house. The difference in this case that Ms. Fitzpatrick did not acknowledge is that it is not an issue with PCRI maintenance or its residents. She contrasted this feedback from longer-term residents with that of newer ones:

“Now, the situation that I’m dealing with, with the residents on Alberta . . . is not the most common and neighborly way that we’ve had to deal with problems in the past. That could be because they know who we are and know what we’ve done as far as turning their block around, making their property more valuable than it was prior to us coming in there. They appreciate that and they work with us. But then there are some who formulate opinions I think that are just very biased and come across as unneighborly. I think that no one thought to pick up the phone to call me or the property manager and tell us what was happening—that they were concerned about with our property— but instead say things, send emails to PCRI’s board of directors and to say things like: people are drug addicts, drug abusers and gang-affiliated. Those, to me, are very serious accusations to make. If you go by there and you look at that area, there’s nothing that I can see. I’ve been through there as well as my board since this letter came out—all times of day: early in the morning, late at night. Just looking at the area it does not like gang—I don’t know where they get their perception of what a gang-infested environment looks like but that is definitely not it.”

“. . .It was only a shot in the air . . .”

While the area may not be gang-infested, the block has seen its share of gang activity. Neighbors report large groups of men, mostly wearing red, used to hang out and flash gang signs to passing cars. Since that unit has been vacated the activity disappeared but with the recent incident of shots being fired, new gang activity is suspected. Ms. Fitzpatrick sought to minimize this latest incident by saying: “The police indicated that it was only one shot. And I hear the word guns and I hear the word gunshots but from what I understand, from what the police said, it was only a shot in the air, one time. He didn’t say anything about guns or gunshots.” The witnesses to the event, however, heard a series of shots followed by a pause and another single shot. The fact that the shots were fired in the air does not make them feel safer.

Ms. Fitzpatrick characterized the way the complaints are conveyed as counter-productive: “. . . Oftentimes we don’t take into consideration our differences, how we work, how we live that interfere with our ability to get out and get involved with the community. That’s something that we grapple with because it’s very, very important to us as well. Just to be able to hear the voices of everybody. If you walk into our office, which I think is representative of the community, we have African-American, we have Caucasian, we have Asian, we have Latino, we have Native American, we have mixed-race people that we employ here. So as a result, we get a multitude of opinions that help us foster our decision making. And I think when we can get our neighborhoods to be the same way, we’ll be able to understand each other and be able to engage each other more than kind of going through a civic engagement process, a kind of policing process to get people to behave in a way that may not be how they are culturally, not just based on race, but culture.”

Hopefully King residents and PCRI can vow to work together to meet the needs of all the residents of the community. The next meeting of the King Neighborhood Association is on Wednesday, October 13th, 6:30 pm at the King Neighborhood Facility, 4815 NE 7th Avenue. Childcare is available by reservation. Contact us at info@kingneighborhood.org or call the Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods at 503-823-4575. If you would like to discuss this issue or anything else that effects your neighborhood, get involved with your neighborhood association.

Correction: The previous version of this story cited PCRI’s vacancy rate as 17% instead of 7%. We regret the error.

Read the interview at http://kingneighborhood.org/PCRI_interview.pdf

15 thoughts on “PCRI: Working for a Good Cause but Neighbors Question How Successfully

  1. Maureen Mimiaga

    Thank you for this informative and well-written entry. I sincerely hope that Ms. Fitzpatrick takes the necessary steps to ensure that PCRI’s properties are safe, healthy and an asset to the King Neighborhood.

  2. Maxine Fitzpatrick

    Trace, you are entitled to your own opinions – but not your own facts; PCRI has 51 vacancies – not 120 and that equals a 7% vacancy. I won’t attempt to contest further or retaliate against you for the way you profiled PCRI in this article.

    “When the law of an eye for an eye operates, all the people will end up blind”. -Bishop Desmond Tutu

    Rather, PCRI welcome King Neighborhood residents to contact us, we would like for them to get to know and see first hand the work we are doing in the community.

    Please have a pleasant day.

    1. Trace Salmon

      Ms. Fitzpatrick,

      I came up with the estimated number of vacancies from your total number of units–approximately 700–and the vacancy rate that you told me was 17 percent. I went back to the recording and I clearly hear you say “seventeen.” If you misspoke, it was not my intention to misquote you. I have now corrected the article. If you find anything else that is inaccurate, let us know.

      Trace Salmon

  3. Robin Jordan

    I have been a resident on 10th Avenue for over 7 years. I have had the privilege to live across the street from two wonderful African-American families that previously lived in one of the now vacant houses listed above. My husband and I were both disappointed when both of the families left the residence due to lack of assistance from PCRI. They both mentioned that they had made numerous requests for fixes but never received it.

    In addition, as a local resident for over 7 years, I have heard several gun shots on several occasions coming from the Alberta and 10th Avenue area. In the most recent years, that is the only area I hear gun shots coming from. This is most definitely not a one time occurrence. My husband and I purposefully avoid walking down that section of street due to the groups of both men and women smoking pot and selling drugs.

    I am frustrated that someone would assume that the neighbors don’t appreciate or consider our cultural differences. I don’t care what nationality you are or where you come from, drug dealing, gang activity, gun shots and garbage on the sidewalk are unacceptable.

    My husband and I would be elated if PCRI would fix the problems with the vacant house across the street so we could welcome another family to our neighborhood.

    I don’t think anything in Trace’s article was written unfairly. I also think that what Trace has written is representative of the majority of the neighbors that live in this area…not just his own. I want to thank you, Trace, for taking the time and effort to bring this problem into the forefront.

  4. Lyndsey Vaughan-Dieter

    I’m sure people can appreciate the fact that residents see more of what goes on in a neighborhood on a consistent basis than sporadic visits by PCRI staff members, police or anyone else.

    I am a resident on 10th Ave. Since moving here in 2007 my husband and I have witnessed repeated acts of prostitution, violence, littering, drug use and the sale of drugs on our street, committed by residents, former residents and non-residents of 10th Ave. In the past three years we have called 911 about five shootings that have taken place within a two or three block radius. On several different occasions, I’ve watched fist fights take place right in front of our house. I’ve watched an RV sideswipe a car belonging to one of PCRI’s tenants and subsequently catch fire. I witnessed a group of about 30 young teenagers engage in a riot in front of my house. My husband has seen someone using what appeared to be a ‘crack’ pipe right on the street and then laugh about the fact that he could. And the countless times we’ve watched cars drive up and money exchanged. For some reason, “action” loves our street. WHY? Is it so wrong to want to feel safe?

    So, to deter these activities, and to rectify immediate situations, my husband and I have contacted the stakeholders in this neighborhood – the police, business owners, property owners, KNA and PCRI. After all, we all have a responsibility in keeping it safe for all residents, new and old, regardless of class, ethnicity or background.

    Don’t get me wrong. It’s not all bad on 10th Ave and I’m not suggesting all the problems on our street are entirely the responsibility of PCRI nor are they entirely caused by tenants who occupy their units. But don’t you agree that PCRI has a responsibility to be involved? Can’t we work together to make this street safe and friendly? If there is something more we can do, or if there is a better way of working with PCRI to help improve the conditions on our street, please, someone, anyone, tell me.

  5. Fred Dieter

    I would like to formally invite Ms. Fitzpatrick to come sit on my front porch for an afternoon, (a favorite past time of my wife & mine).

  6. Maureen Mimiaga

    Ms. Fitzpatrick,
    if you were to come to the next KNA meeting, time and date described at the end of the article, it would be an excellent opportunity for the King Neighbors ” to get to know and see first hand the work we are doing in the community”, as you mention above.

    This would be an excellent chance for respectful dialogue between all members of the community and a chance to problem-solve to bring about change in the area of 10th and Alberta, described as troubled by many.

    Please consider attending this meeting and joining concerned neighbors in finding ways to improve this situation.

  7. Amy

    As a resident of a PCRI property who would otherwise be relegated to the most remote, culturally dead suburb if not for this organization, I take strong offense at the tone of this piece. There may well be problems with some of PCRI’s properties; I don’t think anyone would claim perfection. Yet, over the years I’ve rented from a number of Portland rental management companies- none besides PCRI specifically low income housing- and had fewest problems, by far, with PCRI. We are responded to quite quickly when maintenance is needed, we are periodically reminded to replace smoke alarm batteries, and a newsletter devoted to renters’ issues is regularly disseminated to all residents.

    Indeed, this was far from the case when, a few years ago, we rented from a different property management group, one which specializes in overpriced ‘vintage’ buildings and presents an image of luxury. This other company allowed a major plumbing leak to continue (despite our repeated calls and letters) for so long ‘water moths’ settled in and we were forced to move our family to a safer home. This home too was in a ‘sought after’ historical NE PDX neighborhood, and we complained to anyone who would listen, yet where were the disgruntled neighbors or affronted media then? Apparently, no one says a word of complaint unless it’s low income housing that’s at issue. It is clear from our experiences and from your article that classism is the real problem here.

  8. Fred Dieter

    It’s unfortunate that such a well written article is perceived to be nothing more than an issue between classes. It is clear to me that a dialog needs to take place between PCRI and neighbors to clear up the confusion. As a concerned neighbor, I refuse to sit on my front porch and watch drug dealing, people beating each other with clubs and shooting guns into the air and at each other and then have people tell me this is a is a class issue. Last time I checked, these are unlawful behaviors regardless of class. The police are well aware that this is a “hot spot.” But these issues need the involvement of everyone in the community to be resolved.

  9. Liz

    I live next door to PCRI house. In 2008, I and other neighbors were in constant contact with PCRI regarding activities on this property.
    There 14 year old that was known in the neighborhood for flashing a gun was usually the eldest of children unsupervised there. The police were monthly visitors where this child usually ran through our backyards to escape. He was eventually arrested for armed robbery.
    From the police we also found out another relative that stayed there was an unregistered wanted sex offender recently released from prision in another state.
    They were finally evicted after a midnight police raid.
    Before this neighbor left she informed a number of neighbors that she had a relative that works for PCRI(which is true) & that she was aware of which of us neighbors had been complaining to them.
    The house is empty. I hope it stays that way. This is just my experience.

  10. M. Ragioniere

    Ms. Fitzpatrick’s expression “You are entitled to your own opinions but not your own facts”, lifted from Lawrence O’Donnell’s promotion for his new show on MSNBC sounds a bit strong and mean spirited in reference to your article. Reversing perspective, Shakespeare’s “the lady doth protest too much, methinks” seems more apropos in describing PCRI’s Executive Director’s response to the King Neighborhood’s apprehension about safety and livability.

    It looks like PCRI’s strategy is: put the messengers on the defensive; accuse them of faulty perception of events and conditions they clearly witness; and question their motives in what she judges to be an attack on her organization. Ms. Fitzpatrick suggests King Neighborhood residents contact PCRI to see firsthand what they doing for the community. Pardon me, but isn’t that exactly what you are doing. “What are we, the King Neighborhood residents petitioning you here, chopped liver?” seems to be another apt expression.

    Ms. Fitzpatrick’s statement “I won’t attempt to contest further or retaliate against you for the way you profiled PCRI in this article” is both arrogant and dismissive. Retaliate! – What exactly does she mean? You article is a well written and informative appeal to address serious community concerns. However, you have touched a nerve. From PCRI’s point of view, it would be good if you just faded away along with any bad publicity. Why is Ms. Fitzpatrick so sensitive and evasive about PCRI’s property management? To loosely paraphrase the “Bard’s” Hamlet again “Something may be not quite right in NE Portland’s PCRI”.

    Here is my research about PCRI. Hope it helps in your courageous civic endeavor:

    Watching the KGW-TV news story on PCRI’s green building construction stimulated my interest in PCRI. However, internet research on PCRI turned up your newsletter article and responses which raised serious issues. You deserve more satisfactory answers and resolution than you received.

    The KGW news story portrayed an organization on the cutting edge of green residential construction. In contrast, your article describes a nonprofit whose primary mission is to provide affordable rental housing to lower income households.

    700 single family houses, multiplexes and apartment rental units is a large portfolio to manage. PCRI, a community development corporation with 18 years of low income rental housing experience, should be able to meet this challenge. Nonetheless, your article and accompanying responses raise some doubt.

    As your research shows, PCRI’s properties have grown in number and complexity with the addition of the ACDC portfolio. Ms. Fitzpatrick states that the HUD Project-based section eight units in the ACDC portfolio overwhelmed her maintenance staff. Customer (tenant) Service in the property management area also appears to be suffering.

    One must ask these questions:

    Why is PCRI building and selling new houses, albeit green ecological ones, when it is having difficulty meeting its core mission? (Judging from the emphasis on PCRI’s webpage which includes its newsletter and face book pages, PCRI’s resources are currently focused on the construction and marketing of new houses. All the current news is about this. Staff titles include Home Ownership Program Manager, Housing Developer and Project Manager. Perhaps PCRI is morphing into real estate development with management attention focused on this rather than low income rental property management).

    What’s behind PCRI’s high staff turnover? (PCRI’s web page has audit reports listing employees for the past four years and there is a roster of the current administrative employees. Some positions experience 100% turnover per year or are completely vacant from year to year. Other positions turnover at 50%. That is just the administrative staff. How about the maintenance/operations staff which is not shown? Casual inquiries with current and former employees indicate maintenance turnover of 50-75%. I also learned that the Maintenance Manager position has recently been vacated along with the Human Resource Manager. These same informal conversations reveal aspects that fit an organizationally dysfunctional family overseen by an autocratic leader with little tolerance for differing opinions. The fact that constructive criticism is met with recrimination is not surprising given the reception you have received. This is a far cry from the “multitude of opinions that help us foster our decisions”. The general opinion is that Maintenance and Property Management Service to tenants is not a priority resulting in many phone calls and email not returned. On the somewhat positive side, many liked the liberal time off policies and great health benefits. New real estate projects did appear high on the priority list.)

    How successful is PCRI from a financial perspective and is PCRI selling off its rental properties to cover its losses due to poor management of rental properties and/or to pursue its new function as a real estate developer? (PCRI’s 2009 audited statements shed much light. With some help from an accountant friend, I was able to surmise the following: PCRI shows a gain of $208,000 on the sale of properties but without this gain, PCRI’s operating loss was $544,000 which follows a 2008 loss of $412,000. Revenues are down 5% when this gain is removed. It looks like the goose is being sold off. In addition, cash flow was a negative $179,000 when you remove the sale of its assets. 2008’s cash flow was a negative $93,000. This trend is not good. Looking at the balance sheet, there is some reason for concern as Current Liabilities exceed Current Assets by $100,000. Payables which have increased $204,000 are 150% greater than the previous year. Uncollectable rents have nearly tripled. Some $60,000 in interest free loans to homebuyers is also on the balance sheet. These loans have no due date and require no principal repayments.)

    PCRI is a public benefit corporation exempt from federal and state taxes. It receives government and private grants and subsidized financing to pursue its mission and operates in the public trust. As such it is answerable to the community it is chartered to serve. At a minimum, a PCRI representative should attend your meeting to listen and answer your questions. It is hard to believe no one is available. The organization must have a face besides Ms. Fitzpatrick.

    PCRI’s stakeholders could benefit from some transparency. “Feel good” news clips about a few people buying green houses make good news filler but neighborhood safety and living conditions are far more important. Some investigative reporting, in addition to the fine job you have done, from the print and broadcast media would bring some badly needed “sunshine”.

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