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By Suzy Khimm and Laura Strickler

The government shutdown means that the long-leaking roof of San Jose Manor II Apartments won’t be replaced anytime soon, says Alma Ballard, who oversees the building for low-income senior citizens in Jacksonville, Florida.

“That’s definitely not going to happen,” said Ballard, executive director of the nonprofit Family Housing Management, who said that water has at times dripped into some residents’ rooms.

Ballard said Family Housing Management had been saving up for a new roof for the 50-unit government-subsidized property, but had to put the plans on hold because its contract with the Department of Housing and Urban Development was still in the process of being renewed when the shutdown began. The company never received its December and January payments from HUD, totaling about $40,000, immediately putting the property under financial strain.

The few federal employees left at HUD have been scouring the books, looking for a last-minute solution to fund hundreds of affordable housing contracts that have expired under the shutdown.

More than 200 of the contracts that expired in December are for properties, like San Jose Manor II, that provide rental assistance for the elderly, according to LeadingAge, an association for nonprofit providers of aging services. Known as Section 202, the program houses about 400,000 low-income elderly people as part of HUD’s Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance as well as a separate HUD program.

San Jose Manor II Apartments in Jacksonville, Florida. Courtesy Jacqueta Nash

These tenants are particularly at risk during the shutdown, says Linda Couch, vice president of housing policy for LeadingAge. Despite its scramble for a fix, HUD has not been able to find any stopgap funding to support the Section 202 landlords whose contracts expired in December, Brian Montgomery, HUD’s acting deputy secretary, told Couch in a call on Wednesday evening, according to her account.

While HUD has identified buckets of money that could potentially be used to shore up other low-income rental assistance contracts, including those for disabled adults, HUD has not been able to do so for the elderly housing program because of restrictions on how previously allocated funds can be spent, according to Couch’s notes from her conversation with Montgomery, currently HUD’s second in command.

“HUD has its back up against the wall and has really no good options,” said Couch, who fears the lack of funding could harm some of the most frail and vulnerable Americans.

HUD did not directly address NBC News’ questions about the shortfall of funds for the elderly.

“HUD is actively resolving issues with these pending contracts with owners and identifying available resources for payment,” Jereon Brown, a HUD spokesman, said in a statement.

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Politics

Tory ballot vote: What time is second ballot on the Tory leadership today? Who will go?

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VOTING commences once again today as Tory MPs undergo a second round at the polls to decide their next leader. What time is the second ballot for the Tory leadership race and who will be kicked off?

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Supreme Court declines to change double jeopardy rule in a case with Manafort implications

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WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court declined on Monday to change the longstanding rule that says putting someone on trial more than once for the same crime does not violate the Constitution’s protection against double jeopardy — a case that drew attention because of its possible implications for President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.

The 7-2 ruling was a defeat for an Alabama man, Terance Gamble, convicted of robbery in 2008 and pulled over seven years later for a traffic violation. When police found a handgun in his car, he was prosecuted under Alabama’s law barring felons from possessing firearms. The local U.S. attorney then charged Gamble with violating a similar federal law. Because of the added federal conviction, his prison sentence was extended by nearly three years.

The Fifth Amendment says no person shall be “twice put in jeopardy of life or limb” for the same offense. But for more than 160 years, the Supreme Court has ruled that being prosecuted once by a state and again in federal court, or the other way around, for the same crime doesn’t violate the protection against double jeopardy because the states and the federal government are “separate sovereigns.”

The case attracted more than the usual attention because of the prospect that Trump may pardon Manafort, who was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison for violating federal fraud laws. A presidential pardon could free him from federal prison, but it would not protect him from being prosecuted on similar state charges, which were filed by New York. Overturning the rule allowing separate prosecutions for the same offenses would have worked in Manafort’s favor.

Gamble’s lawyer, Louis Chaiten of Cleveland, said the nation’s founders understood the protection against double jeopardy to ban any second prosecution for the same offense. Under English common law, the roots of American law, there was no “separate sovereigns” exception. A person could not be put on trial in England if already tried for the same offense in another country.

Chaiten also argued that the states and the federal government are not truly independent anyway and are instead part of a complete national system. He quoted Alexander Hamilton, who described them as “kindred systems, part of one whole.”

And Chaiten said Congress has made the problem worse by dramatically expanding the number and scope of federal laws in recent years, creating more duplication with state laws — something never envisioned in earlier court decisions that allowed double prosecutions.

But the Trump administration said the longstanding double jeopardy rule allows states and the federal government to pursue distinct interests without interfering with each other. Changing the current understanding by barring subsequent prosecutions would allow foreign court actions to preclude U.S. trials for crimes against Americans, the government said.

Civil liberties groups also said the rule has allowed the federal government to pursue notorious civil rights violations that states were unwilling or unable to pursue.

Gamble’s argument appealed to some of the court’s liberals and conservatives. Two years ago, conservative Justice Clarence Thomas joined liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in saying that the court’s past double jeopardy rulings were due for a “fresh examination.”



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Supreme Court blocks suit over racially gerrymandered districts in Virginia

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday tossed out a lawsuit in Virginia over political boundaries for its state Legislature.

By a 5-4 vote — but not strictly along the usual conservative/liberal divide — the court said Virginia’s House of Delegates did not have the legal right to carry on a fight over the map once state officials bowed out.

The dispute arose after the last census when the Republican-controlled Legislature redrew the district lines for the Virginia Senate and the House of Delegates. In response to a lawsuit, a federal court declared the map invalid, concluding that it unconstitutionally sorted voters based on race. A redrawn map was seen as more favorable to Democrats.

Virginia’s attorney general declined to appeal, and the House of Delegates picked up the fight. But the Supreme Court said a single house of the Legislature had no authority to do so.

“The House observes that Virginia gives redistricting authority to the ‘General Assembly.’ True enough,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote. But, she said, “One house of its bicameral legislature cannot alone continue the litigation against the will of its partners in the legislative process.”

She was joined by two of the court’s other liberals, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, but also by two of the court’s most conservative members, Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch.

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring called the ruling a big win for democracy.

“It’s unfortunate that House Republicans wasted millions of taxpayer dollars and months of litigation in a futile effort to protect racially gerrymandered districts, but the good news is that this fall’s elections will take place in constitutionally drawn districts,” Herring said.

Eric Holder, the former U.S. attorney general during the Obama administration, called the decision “an important victory for African Americans in Virginia who have been forced since 2011 to vote in racially gerrymandered districts that unfairly diluted their voting power.”

“With a new, fair map in place, all Virginians will now — finally — have the opportunity this fall to elect a House of Delegates that actually represents the will of the people,” Holder said.

Monday’s decision will have no practical effect, because the Supreme Court had earlier allowed elections to proceed using the redrawn map that the House of Delegates opposed.



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