April 17, 2007
Clarification of the Center's lease with the city

The following was sent to me by Ed Davis, who is a media contact for the Center Serving Persons with Mental Retardation:

Clarification of $1 rental agreement with The City of Houston:

Since the original lease was amended effective June 24, 1964, the lease has required rent payments by the Center Serving Persons with Mental Retardation to the City far in excess of the originally-stated $1 per year, an obligation that the Center has more than fulfilled each year.

While the original lease, dated Nov. 15, 1963, required a nominal rent payment of $1 per year plus any actual costs and expenses incurred by the City in connection with the lease, in March of 1964 the then-new mayor, Louie Welch, questioned the validity of this lease because an appraisal had not been perf ormed on the property to show that the rent payment reflected a "fair value." (Houston Post, March 12, 1964, p.6). According to this report, the Mayor believed that after an appraisal was conducted, a contractual arrangement could be worked out in which the City would be paid based on the appraised value.

In response, the Center comissioned two appraisals and reported the results to the City. The lease was amended on June 25, 1964 and was later approved by vote of the City Council. The rental rate established in the 1964 amendment was $6,750 per year. When the lease was amended again in 1972 to add the one-acre tract, the rent payment was increased to $17,200.

The agreements have always given the Center the right to fulfill the rent requirement through the provision of services in lieu of a monetary payment. The Center was given a dollar credit for certain types of services through a schedule contained in the lease. In each year since 1964, the Center has fulfilled its rent payment obligations through the provision of services. As required by the terms of the lease, the Center submitted a report to the City summarizing the services provided and quantifying the dollar value of the credit. Moreover, these reports were received by the City without question, and in most cases we have documentation that shows the reports were approved by the City Council by motion and vote.

The sum total of these credits for the years 1964-2004 is $32,892,190 in services provided pursuant to the lease agreement.

As for our situation in general, we are encouraged that the mayor has agreed to negotiate with us about keeping The Center and its residents in their current location. We truly feel that Mayor White and the City of Houston will do what's right in our case, and we are so thankful that our supporters' efforts have made such a difference to our future. It's a testament to what people can do.

I appreciate the clarification. While I believe a lot of the information about the lease agreement was out there, I don't think it had been presented in a concise way. At the least, much of what's here is new to me.

It's time to get this settled. Mayor White, please get the job done.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 17, 2007 to Elsewhere in Houston