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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Senator Mitch McConnell

361-A Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-1702


Subject: Homeless Assistance Roadblock in Health & Human Services


Dear Senator:

We need and plead for your help. We tried to work within the system, however, HHS thwarted us in our efforts to assist the homeless using surplus federal properties under the McKinney Act.

This Act goes back to the 1980’s and never has performed as it was intended. Several class actions later and decades involving numerous Congressional amendments to fix it, all appears about to work but for the current roadblock at HHS. HHS reports that they have ‘an internal policy against approving any application involving an economic benefit’ under the Act to assist the homeless. And the dismal approval record of HHS confirms their ‘just say no’ internal policy.

Today, over ten thousand surplus federal properties languish and provide no intended McKinney Act homeless benefit largely because of this HHS internal policy. To illustrate the lost opportunity to assist the homeless, we share our program with you. Our firm currently represents three non-profit applications before HHS, all having an ‘economic benefit’ purpose to “assist the homeless’ under the Act;

  • Sustainable Timber Management – over 5,000 acres of Corps surplus properties located in KY, MS, TN, AR, and LA, under the care of the University of Kentucky School of Forestry, where the revenues are pledged to The Coalition for the Homeless, Inc., Louisville, KY. This program will generate millions of dollars of new cash revenues to ‘assist the homeless’, while leaving the lands unchanged in use. Because of HHS policy against economic benefit in their approval process of the McKinney applications, these same Corps properties have been posted yearly on the Federal Register since 1990, with no takers and providing no benefit to the homeless. Because HHS wants a homeless operator, with money, and need to use that particular property, as is, where is, and only to house the homeless therein, these properties will never benefit the homeless under this narrow restriction to the Act. HHS has denied this application of ours.
  • Indian Gaming, Marion, Indiana – half way between Indianapolis and Ft Wayne, there lays a nearly abandoned Veterans Hospital, deemed surplus under title V of the McKinney Act. The site is beautiful, campus like and full of old historic buildings. The town, like many now in America is suffering from loss of jobs, tax base and is a great supporter of our application on behalf of an upstate New York non-profit to take this land under the McKinney Act, lease it to a Native American Indian tribe and develop it for gaming purposes. The Native American Indian Counsel is also supportive of our proposal, since very few Indian gaming facilities exists east of the Mississippi. A portion of the gaming revenues would be pledged through the lease, to the exclusive benefit of the Homeless located in Rochester, New York. This proposal is an economic proposal, and will be similarly denied under HHS’ unwarranted internal policy. Millions of new revenues to assist the homeless will again be lost. The Town of Marion, the Indian tribe, and the homeless all suffer because of HHS’ refusal.
  • Eight Story Federal Office Building Albuquerque, New Mexico – In the heart of downtown Albuquerque lays a 270,000 sf surplus federal office building in need of considerable repair, however, located in a prime commercial market. We have another application for another non-profit, also located in upstate New York, to sublease this building to a developer as-is and pledge those revenues to benefit the homeless in upstate New York. This application too will be denied under HHS’ ‘no economic development’ internal policy. If the current as-is rent is only $10/sf on this property, and the lease is for 75 years, the lost cash benefit to the homeless from this unfortunate HHS internal policy is $200+ million dollars; from just this one property alone (and the feds have over ten thousand of them!)

There is no reason that America has a homeless problem given the McKinney Act but for the obstructive administration of the applications by the Dept of Health and Human Services. In just the three applications that our firm has before them, something close to a billion dollars in new homeless revenues would result; but will be lost until someone opens the roadblock now at HHS.

We would be happy to come meet with you, and/or HHS with you, or discuss these applications in any matter that you wish, in the interest of clearing the way for McKinney to provide millions of dollars in lost revenues to assist the homeless. Please advise what your office can do to assist. Thanking you in advance for your kind assistance.

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