May 31, 2017
ELMIRA N.Y. (WENY) -- While future funding remains in the balance of the 2018 budget, the Elmira Housing Authority is expecting to see a major financial boost soon...however, the money technically belonged to the housing authority in the first place.
During Wednesday's monthly meeting, officials gave an update to a class action lawsuit the agency has been involved in for years.
Executive Director James Mirando says back in 2012, in order to help the government stay afloat, money was taken from the reserve fund of the housing authority.
This was also the case for more than 350 other housing agencies, as well. Housing agencies are required to maintain a reserve fund for emergencies.
"The Elmira Housing Authority along with around 355 public housing authorities, who got their reserves taken away from them, we got into a class action lawsuit with a firm from Washington, D.C.," Mirando says.
It should be noted that housing authorities typically receive subsidies based on grades. Those classifications are based on various operational practices such as occupancy, physical condition, and financial condition.
Mirando says EHA lost about $400,000 when the government tapped into the reserve funds. That hit caused the agency to get a bad grade the following year, thus less funding.
"They've been battling for like the last three to four years. And they went in front of a Supreme Court Justice and the judge basically felt the way the subsidy calculations are figured, the government was wrong in basically taking it away," Mirando explains.
While officials say the are afraid of the government potentially appealing the case, lawyers tell them, don't worry.
"Based upon the information that we got from our attorney, I guess they are not going to appeal it. And so we're expecting, after four years, we're expecting to get our money back," says Mirando.
When that money does come in, it's expected to be used for operational costs first. Stay with WENY News for updates on this story.