A coalition of Prince George's County Council members, state legislators and community leaders has decided to seek court action to prevent the county from evicting low-income families from the Southern Laurel Mutual Homes project.
At a meeting last night at the Glenarden Town Hall, the group, led by three council members, agreed to seek a meeting immediately with County Executive Lawrence J. Hogan to attempt to dissuade him from moving approximately 400 families from the 51-building, federally-subsidized housing project.
The development has been cited for hundreds of building and fire code violations by the county in the past week. County officials have said eviction is necessary because most of the buildings are unsafe for human occupancy.
Acting under Hogan's authority, county officials have cited 39 of the 51 buildings at the project and have said they will evacuate the low-income residents on March 30 because the project's owners have said they cannot afford to correct the building code violations.
Last night, a group of about 30 county political and community leaders appointed a committee composed of council member Gerard T. McDonough, State Del. Sylvania Woods Jr. and Thomas Pickett, town manager of Glenarden, to draw up legal papers to contest the proposed evacuation.
Several other prominent county politicians, including state Sen. Tommy Broadwater and council members Floyd E. Wilson Jr., and Deborah R. Marshall, are to seek a meeting with Hogan.
All members of the loose coalition to oppose the evacuation of the South Laurel project said last night they were disappointed with the actions of the various interests in South Laurel. including Hogan, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development -- which subsidizes the project -- and the project's private owners.
"This problem started 10 to 15 years ago when they started building these apartments," said Broadwater. "And right now we have a county executive who has no sensitivity to the needs of the county's poor people.
"He makes no bones about it," Broadwater said. "The people who elected him like what he's doing."