It was recently reported by the Cecil Whig that Cynthia Osborne, the executive director of the Elkton Housing Authority, had embezzled $50,000 in federal funds. Bethany Rae Perryman, the newly appointed editor of the paper, broke the scandal story in what she lauded as the biggest scoop of her career.
However, the taint runs deeper in the EHA than the Whig has reported. Sources within the system, who we will only address by the pseudonym “Mary Jane” in order to conceal their identities and protect them from possible retribution, have reached out to us in order to disclose more details than the Whig has reported.
Ever since the story in the Whig broke, the tenants in the communities managed by the EHA have been talking and decided to share their story implying that the fraud doesn’t stop at embezzlement.
Tenants Being Overcharged on Rent
One of the issues brought forth is that tenants are not being informed of programs within the EHA such as Earned Income Disregard. This program encourages tenants to seek employment in assurance that their rent will not dramatically increase by the new income.
Legally, the Housing Authority is obligated to inform tenants of this and other programs during lease renewals and sign papers confirming that they are aware of all information.
Under the EIS program, 100% of income is disregarded for the first year. On the second year, 50% is disregarded.
Many tenants have lived in these EHA controlled communities for years and overpaid their rent by thousands of dollars and have never heard of Earned Income Disregard.
Unexplained Fees and Unreasonable Utilities Bills
In EHA controlled communities, specifically Rudy Park and Windsor Village, communication between the EHA staff and the tenants is very poor. Tenants reported to us that the EHA would correspond only by leaving notes stuck to their front doors.
Often attached are bills only described as “Past due,” and when asked what the past due bill is for, they receive no explanation, only a threat of eviction if it is not paid.
In addition, the utility fees for all of the tenants have skyrocketed. Several of the charges for water alone exceed $500. And when Mary Jane has asked for copies of the bills issued from the gas, water and electric companies, they have been denied.
These tenants feel they have the right to see the actual bill for their utilities and not the paper printed out by EHA and stickered to their doors. And for the sake of transparency, they are correct.
Ignored Drug Activity
Mary Jane has also told us about drug use by tenants living in the communities. This behavior has been reported and otherwise ignored by the EHA staff.
More specific details have been omitted from the article to protect the privacy and safety of our sources.
If you live anywhere in Cecil County, this should not come as a surprise given that our region is in the throes of an opioid epidemic and in many neighborhoods dealers and addicts run rampant.
Black Mold/Code Violations Persist as Maintenance Orders Go Ignored
We all know that low income housing isn’t going to be like living in the Plaza Hotel, but all buildings are required to meet certain standards of livability.
Many tenants have work orders going back as far as 2015 that have yet to be filled. Others have provided pictorial evidence of black mold in their homes and suffer from chronic health issues related to mold exposure. Their children are reportedly suffering the same health issues, as well as their pets.
Maintenance, when they actually did show, did little to solve the issue, claiming that all they had to do was paint enamel over the mold because if it can’t be exposed to water, it would die.
In other cases, paint peels from the walls and is being consumed by their pets, leading to concerns about whether or not this is lead paint, as it has been used before in low income homes.
Physical Assaults and Fears of Retribution
According to Mary Jane, there is an individual in the area shooting at people, property, and vehicles with a BB gun. This person has been reported and as of now, no action has been taken.
Mary Jane, and many of the other tenants who have not reached out, are afraid to speak up and make waves, for fear of the EHA evicting them in retribution and being left homeless and destitute. In the past they have taken steps to evict people who have angered them.
Many more ghastly details provided to us had to be omitted to protect the safety of our sources.
“I hope by shining some light on this, someone can help us, all the families that are under the management of EHA,” said Mary Jane. “This is a lot. I know. Welcome to life in our neighborhood!!”
Several photos have been provided to us by the tenants corresponding to us under the pseudonym “Mary Jane” and will be provided in this article. See the gallery inserted at the bottom of the page.
What we have seen, and what has been explained to us is nothing short of reprehensible. We would like to call on authorities to carry out a full investigation of the Elkton Housing Authority and all of the properties they see.
Our own investigation has uncovered curious examples of malfeasance. A case search we conducted revealed that the EHA sued administrative secretary Alisa Ducre on several occasions for failure to pay rent, indicating that she was living in a property meant for low income families.
More evidence of corruption in the EHA is currently being investigated and we will report on it as details become available.
It would seem that the $50,000 embezzlement scandal reported by our friends at the Whig was only the tip of the iceberg.