|Loveland - April 12, 2012
In 2008 Sam Betters was appointed to the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA) Board of Directors and by
2010 was elected Chairman of the CHFA Board. CHFA finances low-income housing projects and provides guidance to
local housing authorities receiving federal and state subsidized housing grants and loans.
During the same time Betters was climbing the CHFA leadership ladder, his Mirasol Senior housing project in Loveland
was under attack by residents for failing to comply with the very federal and state regulations his organization is supposed
to enforce. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) regional director, Leroy Brown, notified the City
of Loveland in a March 14, 2012 letter that Loveland must return excess rents collected from senior citizens at Mirasol
Senior Housing Community estimated by city staff to exceed $250,000. Betters' is coordinating the City of Loveland
appeal along with the local housing authority (HACOL) where Betters has worked for the past three decades.
At issue are compulsory monthly "Community Dues" beginning at $113 residents have been forced to pay. Residents
complained the amenities these dues are said to cover were advertised as "free" for Mirasol residents in the community
brochures. Sam Betters, believed to be among the secret private investors/owners in the project, fiercely defends the dues
as necessary to provide the Event Center, senior activities and even the shuttle van which is complimentary at most private
Loveland senior independent living senior housing complexes. For years residents have been refused any public accounting
on how these dues are spent.
Loveland City Attorney John Duval sent a letter to HUD last week claiming the "Community Dues" at Mirasol are
"voluntary" because residents "failure to pay the fee under Mirasol's lease does not constitute a legal basis to
evict that tenant."
Contrary to Duval's argument, the Community Dues were indeed mandatory. Had Duval searched the available records,
he might have found a letter (see right column) by a tenant who is now deceased who emphatically protested paying the
Community Dues was later threatened with eviction. Rather than face an eviction, she failed to renew her lease at the end
of April in 2011 and moved. As is clear in her handwritten correspondence to the housing authority, she didn't want to pay
the Community Dues but was forced to pay since the same dues are defined in her rental agreement as part of the "Gross
Rent" of the unit.
Ironically, a compliance manual published by Betters' own CHFA (LIHTA Compliance Manual) describes in detail which
fees can be charged to residents of subsidized "affordable housing" to receive tax credits that are not considered as part
of the gross rents which are supposed to be capped at "affordable" levels. Section 2.2 defines allowable fees as;
Generally, fees for facilities or services may be charged to residents in addition to gross rent only if all three of
the following statements are true:
Section 4 of the standard Marisol residential lease agreements signed between 2008 and 2010 for the paired homes states;
"4. Rent: Resident agrees to pay Manager the gross rental amount of $13032 for rent for the full term
aforesaid, in equal consecutive monthly payments of $1086 a month commencing on November 1, 2009. Gross
rent shall be computed as $955 unit rent, and $NA parking, and $N/A furniture, and $131 Community Dues and
it is agreed that if occupancy......."
Contrary to Duval's claim, the leases at Mirasol have included the "Community Dues" as part of the "Gross Rent" for
years. Failure to pay any part if the rent is sufficient reason to initiate an eviction process according to the same lease
agreements the residents signed. When "Community Dues" being charge to Mirasol residents were added to the "Gross
Rent" calculation, the units at Mirasol did not comply with the "affordable" housing rent tables. As a result, HUD is asking
the City of Loveland to either refund the federal government the total grant amount or locate all past and present Mirasol
residents to provide a refund thus bringing them into compliance with the purpose behind the grant - provide affordable
senior housing. The cost of refunding to seniors who paid a rent in excess of the legal limit established by HUD is estimated
Subsequent to the recent HUD inquiry, HACOL staff have begun covering their tracks by asking Mirasol residents to sign
new leases stating the Community Dues are now voluntary. In addition, any resident following HUD's direction who
attempts to "opt-out" of the Community Dues is forced to sign a punitive agreement where that resident is banned from
certain common areas of the community.
So far, only one resident has signed but as a result will be banned from the Event Center or other common areas of the
development Betters claims are funded by the community dues. A primary complaint by some residents and even
homeowners who pay the nearly $300 monthly homeowners association fee is the residents have no say over who uses the
facilities they finance. Instead, Betters' and his staff invite community civic groups like the Kiwanis Club and others to use
the facilities at will. As a result, the one Mirasol resident who has decided to sign an "Opt-Out" agreement will be banned
from areas of the development open to Loveland residents who don't even live at Mirasol. HACOL's opt-out agreement
residents are forced to sign states;
"I will not be able to utilize the buildings and/or common area grounds associated with the Events Center at
LovelandPolitics has obtained marketing brochures from Mirasol beginning in 2006 that claim the Event Center, shuttle van,
continental breakfast and other amenities are indeed free for all residents of Mirasol. Residents paying the homeowner
association dues and the renters paying the Community Dues have long sought information over who owns limited liability
companies apparently controlled by Betters that collect these fees and own the property. Betters and the City of Loveland
claim they cannot offer the amenities anymore without the extra fees but have been unwilling to open their books for an
independent accounting. In Duval's letter appealing the decision by HUD, Duval argued such a refund,"would jeopardize
without good cause the continued success of the Mirasol Project"
When residents of Mirasol ask to see financial data, Betters retreats behind the argument that private investors own some
portions of the property and their finances, like how much profit they take out, cannot be disclosed because it is private
information. However, Betters is also claiming that the project's finances are so fragile the loss of any revenue from
residents that exceeds the 'affordability' rates he agreed to charge when receiving federal and state funds will result in
financial collapse of the project.
Duval's appeal letter, as quoted above, apparently argues that any action by HUD to ensure residents are not forced to pay
more than the legal 'affordable' rent is not a "good cause." Instead, Duval appears to be arguing the "continued success"
of the Mirasol Project is defined by the profit or financial viability the investors claim through their spokesman Sam Betters.
HUD officials were reportedly unimpressed with Duval's argument and still see Mirasol as a publicly funded project that
agreed to certain rent restrictions.
No word yet whether the City of Loveland or HACOL will ask the secret private investors (hiding behind limited liability
companies that don't disclose the names of the owners) to open their books to prove the argument the project is in
jeopardy without the extra Community Dues. Betters appears to enjoy the best of both worlds. Collect as much as you
can to enhance the bottom line while passing back to the City of Loveland any negative financial consequences from
collecting fees HUD says violate the conditions of their funding.
Loveland's Troubled Senior Housing Project
|City Appeal To HUD Contains
So far, only one resident braved the peer pressure and intimidation
by HACOL staff and signed the "opt-out" agreement thus subjecting
herself to a newly imposed mini-apartheid at Mirasol
read HUD's respond posted April 18, 2012
|Previous LovelandPolitics stories on Mirasol
September 4, 2010
September 11, 2010
Commentary by former Mirasol Resident
1. HUD letter (same as city letter) to local
authority describing its decsion
2. City Manager notifies council of HUD decision
in an email
|Loveland City Attorney John Duval