William B. Mount is going viral on Salishan. The Tacoman once used public access television to air his world view, and now posts videos on YouTube. About five months ago, he and a woman named Jane drove through Salishan on Tacoma’s East Side with a video camera and a big box of misinformation. They delivered a 10-minute commentary on the mixed use and mixed-income redevelopment of the worn-out public housing site and posted it Feb. 8 on www.youtube.com/user/DrWilliamMount.
The stew of untruths simmered there.
It’s at a boil now.
Tacoma Housing Authority and Tacoma City Council members are getting emails from people hot over what he calls misuse of Social Security funds. We are getting queries from people like Charles Davis of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and Dennis Doyle of Chicago.
“Is the following accurate?” Doyle wrote, referring to Mount’s link.
The short answer to the big questions is: No.
Before we check Mount’s claims, check his Internet site.
“This is the Official YouTube Site of Dr. William B. Mount. All others are fake,” his site introduction reads. “As a former Captain in the U.S. Army, Dr. Mount has fought to expose many Cover Ups and Negligence in the United States of America.”
He lists “Forest Ranger, U.S. Army” as his occupations, but does not say where he earned a doctorate, or what kind of doctorate it is.
He says: Jesuits “are here as the hitmen of the Catholic church. If you oppose them they will kill you. They claim to have torched off the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in this report.”
“The United States was dissolved in 1933.”
“Radionics is the third type of energy. Electrical, magnetic and radionics.”
“The FBI stripped me of everything I owned as an ambassador.”
But in “ELABORATE WELFARE HOUSING PROJECT” he focuses on Tacoma.
In their windshield tour, he and Jane start with the money.
Claim: “What you are looking at is a $225 million complex, $225 million complex, of housing out of the Social Security budget for 1,300 units.”
False: No Social Security funds were used to redevelop Salishan.
In 2000, THA began replacing 855 worn-out houses with a mixed-income, mixed-use combination of 1,300 rental and privately owned homes.
The cost was $225 million. For every $1 of public money in that total, private sources invested $1.73.
A $35 million HOPE VI grant from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development was seed money. Commercial lenders and private investors in low-income housing tax credits were part of the mix.
Claim: “All welfare housing. All Social Security housing for foreigners will get $2,642 a month. All of that comes out of the Social Security budget.”
False: Of Salishan’s renters, 97 percent are citizens of the United States, according to THA Executive Director Michael Mirra.
“We know of no government program that pays $2,642 per month to foreigners,” Mirra said. “Persons who have entered the United States with refugee status may receive Refugee Cash Assistance of $478 per month for a family of three, if they have no other income. Elderly or disabled individuals may receive Supplemental Security Income of $545 per month. SSI clients must meet citizenship criteria or lawful admittance status criteria.”
If you would like to check his figures, click on www.dshs.wa.gov.
Claim: “Look at the cars. Do you see any old ones? These are $50,000, $40,000 cars.”
False. The bulk of the cars in Salishan’s public housing lots are turn-of-the-century, mostly sedans and mini-vans. Outside the privately owned homes, some cars are more expensive. Drive through and see for yourself.
Claim: “They mollycoddle these foreigners who come across the border illegally.”
False. THA does not rent to people who are in this country illegally, and 97 percent of Salishan residents are U.S. citizens.
Claim: “Look at these brand new cars they are giving foreigners!”
False. Again, 97 percent of Salishan residents are American citizens.
“We do not know of any program that buys new cars for foreigners, or for anyone else,” Mirra said.
Claim: “There’s curbs. There’s sidewalks,” Jane said.
“Yeah, I mean, we don’t have curbs and sidewalks. We’ve been paying taxes in Tacoma for 20 years.”
True. The City of Tacoma requires new developments to include curbs, sidewalks, streets and storm drains.
Claim: “Now Pierce County grants from your Social Security money pay for foreigners like Grace, who do not speak English. They pay for them to buy houses while you and I are hurting and scrimping and taxes and our pay’s only $10 or $15 or $20 an hour and these people are getting this housing for free. And if they qualify they actually have the county buy those $300,000 houses for them.”
False. Pierce County does not distribute Social Security money. Nor does it have a program that buys houses for “foreigners like Grace,” or anyone else.
Check the Pierce County budget for yourself at www.co.pierce.wa.us.
Claim: “I would love to live here,” says Jane.
Good news, Jane. You can. Tuesday morning, the three-bedroom home at 3785 East Q St. was listed for $115,000. It has sidewalks.
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Kathleen Merryman: 253-597-8677 kathleen.merryman @thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/street
Watch the video, read the facts
We’ve posted the controversial video at blog.the newstribune.com/street, along with an expanded version of Kathleen Merryman’s column.