FACT CHECK; Social Security Not Used to Build Housing Project Illegals Aren't Allowed to Live There, but Services Are Available to Tenants

Article excerpt

Byline: Carole Fader

Times-Union readers want to know:

An email links to a video of a beautiful Tacoma, Wash., housing development that the narrator says was built for illegal immigrants with Social Security funds. Besides the housing, the residents get Refugee Pay of $2,642 per month plus food stamps. What was Tacoma thinking?

Whatever the city was thinking, it wasn't what this chain email claims.

The video, made by Tacoma resident William B. Mount has gone viral, resulting in numerous calls and messages to the Tacoma Housing Authority and the city council from as far away as Mississippi and Chicago, according to the Tacoma News Tribune.

Mount narrates in the video, "Welcome to Salishan. ... We talked a lot on the television program about how your money as an American citizen is going to pay for welfare housing. What you're looking at is a $225 million complex - a $225 million complex - of housing out of the Social Security budget for 1,300 units."

In actuality, several Washington newspapers have reported, no Social Security funds were used in redeveloping the Salishan project.

In 2000, the housing authority started replacing 855 houses originally built at the start of World War II for shipyard workers. In their place would go a combination of 1,300 mixed-income, mixed-use rental and privately owned homes, according to The Bellingham (Wash.) Herald. The cost Mount reported is accurate, $225 million, but the funding source is not.

PRIVATE FUNDS USED

A $35 million HOPE VI grant from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development provided seed money, while the rest came from loans, bonds, grants and home sales from the first phase, the newspapers reported. For every $1 of public money, private sources invested $1.73.

The housing authority says that the units were not built for illegal immigrants and that it does not rent to illegals. …