WARREN -- Taxpayers paid for the nonprofit Sunshine of Warren Inc. to purchase and rehabilitate houses for low-income residents, and now taxpayers are paying for some of those houses to be torn down.
Critics complain that it's improper to use money from a government grant to tear down houses in the multi-million-dollar, nonprofit corporation's portfolio. They are also irked that some Sunshine properties are dangerous nuisances and others so poorly maintained that they needed to be rehabbed twice.
"A big problem is that many of these houses haven't been monitored like they should have been," said Warren City Councilman Al Novak. "Sunshine acquired them, but then they sat vacant or were rented to people and not taken care of the way they should have been."
But Sunshine Executive Director Anthony Iannucci, whose corporation has $7.5 million in assets according to 2009 IRS forms, defends the program's record of improving neighborhoods and serving low-income residents. He blames the poor housing market for Sunshine's failures, which he said are relatively few.
"The problem is determining which properties are in condition and are located in areas that it is worth the financial investment to bring them back into shape so they can be leased," Iannucci said. "Because of the current housing market, there are homes that even if we put the money into them we do not know if we would be able to get anyone to move into them."
Read an in-depth look at this situation in the Sunday Tribune Chronicle.