A little elf in Postville happened across this email and sent it to me yesterday:
From: Postville City Clerk
CC: Postville Mayor, [REDACTED]
Subject: CDBG GRANT MONEY
Date: Tue, 30 Dec 2008 10:52:45 -0600
December 30, 2008
Dear Property Owner;
The City of Postville will be holding a special meeting on Tuesday January 13, 2009 at 2:00 p.m. David Boss and Mary Ann Humpal, NEICAC and Hank Manning, Iowa Department of Economic Development will be on hand to answer any questions you may have on the CDBG grant funds. Please plan to attend.
Robert O. Penrod
What's wrong with this email? Plenty.
Landlords were asked by the mayor to postpone for one week evictions that were supposed to start Monday December 29. (The mayor only after being prodded by the state and after the government's negligence was reported here.)
That one week period ends Monday morning, January 5.
The meeting mentioned in the above email is meant to deal with the problems landlords have with the government program of emergency rent assistance that was supposed to help former Agriprocessors workers made indigent by the plant's woes.
Landlords have refused to participate in that program because the terms of payment they agreed to almost one month ago were unilaterally changed by the state, reducing payments to landlords by about 33%.
Landlords tell me this brings rent for many of their properties to levels well below basic expenses for those properties: mortgage payments and insurance costs.
Further, local banks feel deceived by this unilateral move to reduce payments to landlords and mistrust the government. Sources who want to remain anonymous to maintain business and social relationships tell me these banks have told landlords to decline participation in that program as a result.
The city has scheduled a meeting to rectify this crisis and stop evictions – but it has scheduled it for well after the voluntary moratorium on evictions agreed to by landlords will have expired, and it did so without first consulting landlords, those sources tell me.
They also say one major landlord will begin evictions as scheduled Monday, January 5, and another may have to do the same, because of pressure from the banks.
As one landlord told me:
We are in Iowa where your word is your bond. Break that word, and no one will trust you again. The state broke its word. The banks don't trust it. And they won't let me trust it, either.
Pleading for a one week delay of evictions and then unilaterally scheduling the meeting meant to negotiate a solution to the crisis two weeks later only makes this problem worse.