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Cutliff Grove options examined

New Nativity Village apartment building at Cutliff Grove on Mission Court in South Albany.

New Nativity Village apartment building at Cutliff Grove on Mission Court in South Albany.

ALBANY, Ga. -- Cries of indignation and outrage spread throughout the city last week when officials with the Cutliff Grove Family Resource Center asked the Albany City Commission to restructure debt the development agency owes on a low-income housing project it took over from the city in 2008.

Cutliff Grove representatives asked the city to reduce the principal on a $1.5 million Housing and Urban Development block grant it received to manage the South Albany New Nativity Village housing complex and to do away with the 3 percent interest it is paying on the grant so that the agency can make the almost half-million dollars in repairs it says the complex needs.

The request left city officials to ponder what action they could take to keep Cutliff Grove from caving under the weight of the $6,324 monthly payments the development organization is currently making.

"I'm not trying to pass off responsibility for this project; I fully accept it on behalf of the city," City Manager James Taylor said Friday. "But most of us who are dealing with it now were not actively involved in this process when it was happening. I do think, though, that Cutliff Grove was ill-prepared to take this project on from Day 1.

"Frankly, I don't think they understood what it takes to run a project of this magnitude. They hired a consultant who was supposed to help them with the process, but he apparently did not do a very good job."

Cutliff Grove program manager Juanita Nixon, who did not respond to a message left Friday, told the City Commission at its Feb. 19 work session that the agency needed around $440,000 to make repairs the city had agreed to do when it approved the block grant that allowed Cutliff Grove to take over the housing program.

REPAIRS 'NOT STRUCTURAL'

The city had acquired property at 601 Mission Court and built a low-income, 42-unit apartment complex in the mid-1990s. The city's Department of Community and Economic Development recommended at the time, and the City Commission approved, a $2.5 million HUD-backed grant so that an organization called Mission Outreach Center could manage the apartments. Mission Outreach, which dubbed the complex New Jerusalem Village, was charged with maintaining the property to HUD standards.

Funds collected as rent would be used to fund additional low-income housing projects in the community.

"Mission Outreach, the original CHODO (Community Housing Development Organization), failed to meet the requirements for maintenance of the project, so the city recovered the property," Taylor said. "Since it was no one on the City Commission's desire to manage a housing unit, the city sought to find another agency to manage the project. That's when the grant was extended to Cutliff Grove."

Taylor said that Cutliff Grove officials have produced a letter suggesting the city would make repairs to the complex, a matter that he said needs further scrutiny. However, City Attorney Nathan Davis said the repairs needed at the New Nativity Village complex did not warrant the kind of funding Cutliff Grove said it needed.

"These are not the kinds of repairs that would make that big a difference in the value of the property," Davis said. "They're maybe a couple of notches above cosmetic, but they're not structural."

Community and Economic Development Director Latoya Cutts, who said Friday was her last day with the department, noted that the public's reaction to Cutliff Grove's request has been distorted by misleading media coverage of the agency's request.

"Everyone's assuming that these folks are asking for a handout," Cutts said. "They're not. I don't think anyone has reported that Cutliff Grove has made all 23 payments on the grant since they took over the project, and they've made all 23 on time. What they're asking for is a restructuring of the debt so that they can afford to make payments and make repairs.

"They don't have the cash on hand to make both. And they can't raise rent like you would in a typical housing complex. HUD sets the standards (less than 80 percent of area median income) for eligibility, and no person who lives in the complex may pay more than 30 percent of his or her income for rent and utilities."

STILL REVIEWING OPTIONS

Cutts said low-income housing complexes like New Nativity are needed in cities like Albany that have high poverty rates.

"I know a lot of people around here are frustrated because the city and federal government are providing this kind of assistance for what they are calling an 'entitlement population,'" she said. "But HUD has a certain level of requirements for these structures, that they be safe and decent, as well as affordable.

"If there were no affordable housing projects like this one available in Albany and all housing was provided by, for lack of a better word, slumlords, imagine what the city would look like. Imagine how much more crime we'd have in the city."

Davis, meanwhile, said the city has few options in helping Cutliff Grove maintain control of the New Nativity complex.

"They've asked the city to reduce the principal balance (of the grant) by half, and that would constitute a gratuity, a gift," Davis said. "I don't believe the federal government would allow that kind of agreement in this case. HUD does have grant programs in which debt may be forgiven, but I'm pretty sure this is not one of those cases. I think it has to be specified before the project is completed.

"I do believe there is a possibility, though, that the city could extend the terms of the agreement."

Davis said he's read citizen-generated commentary that suggests the city "lost money" on the transaction that allowed Cutliff Grove to take over the complex when Mission Outreach could not meet HUD requirements for maintaining the project. He discounts such notions.

"There was not any write-down or loss taken by the city," he said. "The appraised value of the complex did not enter into the equation. This was a non-cash transaction, intended simply to provide low-cost housing for some of the city's poorer residents."

The city is expected to make a ruling on Cutliff Grove's requests soon.

"As of now, we're still looking at options," Assistant City Manager Lonnie Ballard said. "There are some things the city might like to do that we cannot do under federal guidelines. We'll keep looking at our options and make a recommendation to the commission when we feel we have all the information we need."

Comments

Sister_Ruby 1 year, 6 months ago

$440,000 could purchase between 10 and 15 new BMWs for the residents of the complex...or for the people who staff "the program" ...or should I say "the ministry"?

Watch and learn..........

Who's buying that Taylor mansion out on Old Dawson Road? Could it be one of the ministers here in Dougherty County? Just wondering. Can't wait to see.

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chinaberry25 1 year, 6 months ago

Have you ever stopped to figure that Albany has so much poverty because you keep building all these low income housing. Build it and they will come. If I only paid $30 for rent and utilities, I run like mad to that fire. Then they complain about all the crime in the projects. That is another ball of wax. More police. Jails. All this should be considered when one of these complexes are built. Betcha you never once took that into consideration. There use to be some big builders on the commission (1970) when they were first being built. Now the preachers are jumping on the bandwagon. Seems to be the churches are the only thing growing in Albany, he...even America.

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dingleberry 1 year, 6 months ago

DCED lives on securing money and spending it, the employee's salaries come out of this fund. No one seems to pay much attention to what they do until the abyss is approaching and word leaks out. My question is why did we go back to Cutliff when we were in the process of getting nicked on its Grovetown project that once again, they were not qualified to handle? And when McKinley Drake, who runs the church and the housing mess refused to turn over title on the Grovetown project to the city, who paid for it, why did we also loan him $100,000 to buy Aunt Fannie's which is now closed?

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RedEric 1 year, 6 months ago

So if you own rentals you are a slumlord? What kind of talk is that? Oh yeah, socialist talk. The government can do no wrong. We would be ok if not for those greedy capitalists. Welfare people are destructive tenants. Don't scream racist. I just had a friend from up north visit. He is a "slumlord" and he maintains his own properties after welfare slugs move out. The slugs are all white. You cannot put welfare people in decent housing because it doesn't stay decent long. They do not have personal value systems, hence crime, drugs and other self destructive behavior. $440,000 for repairs seems high, but as Sister says so are BMW's

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dmyers80 1 year, 6 months ago

The key word in that sentence was IF.. If there were no affordable and all housing was provided by slum lords... I kind of understand what youre saying though, but there is a difference in those who were raised on welfare and never had an example of hard work, and those who are recieving it because of their current financial circumstances.

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RedEric 1 year, 6 months ago

I agree, this same guy talked about told that he was now housing second generation girls and kids with multiple fathers leaving the mothers housing to get her own. Welfare was sold and approved by the american people to help those in need of tempory help. So many, however, view it as a lifestyle and skin color has nothing to do with it.

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oldster 1 year, 6 months ago

Cutliff's spokesperson said they don't have the cash on hand to make the repairs and the payments. Guess what? The city and the county don't have spare money it either. If you turn a profit from these rentals will the city and county get that? I don't think so. I think the buck must stop here before the city gets into a money pit here.

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oldster 1 year, 6 months ago

I would like to rescind my above statement, just in case I am wrong.

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dingleberry 1 year, 6 months ago

So Nathan Davis was the one selected to fall on the collective sword. On perhaps a few clues were missed. Anyway, the article did not tell you the project consisted of 50 units funded in 1997. Nor were you told that the deed to secure debt and note that should have been signed by DCED and Mission Outreach Center in Feb 1997 was not filed until Mar 2004. In the interim, 8 of the 50 units we paid for were built on a lot Mission owned and Heritage Bank loaned money on that was unencumbered due to our failure to file the paperwork protecting our interest.. When the whole project was foreclosed, these 8 units, not mentioned in the article or by the city and valued at $400,000, went to Heritage Bank, not the city.
In foreclosure on the City's part, in addition to the $400,000 in apartments that "disappeared", there were legal fees of $369,595 and IRS liens of around $65,000. The City sold its part, 42 units, to Cutliff Grove Family Resource Center in 2008 for $1.5 million. Heritage sold its 8 units, built with money provided by the City, to Greater Cutliff Grove Missionary Baptist Church about the same time. . The Cutliff Church, not the non-profit, still rents these 8 units paid for on your dime. Isn't it kinda strange that no one talks about what happened with the 8 missing units--or that they were ever built? Now you tell me--did taxpayers lose money on this deal?

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dingleberry 1 year, 6 months ago

If you go to the DoCo Tax Assessor's website and do a "search" by address, you will find the apartments. For the 42, look at the "601 Mission" and for the eight, look at "612 Mission". Be sure to note who owns the properties and also look at the "Sale Information". There are also pictures you can click on. Enjoy!

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dingleberry 1 year, 6 months ago

There is a laundromat on 601 Mission just as there is one on every project we sponsor. On another nearby lot, 2115 Madison, there is a daycare center.

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whattheheck 1 year, 6 months ago

Actually, the city provided $2,5 million for Mission to build and operate the housing project. Mission, a non-profit of the New Jerusalem Pentacostal Church, got the land from the Church, not the city. The entire project was hosed long before Cutliff arrived on the scene. But the city seems to have mismanaged this one just as it did with Grovetown, also a Cutliff venture.

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whattheheck 1 year, 6 months ago

"The City of Albany, Department of Community & Economic Development (DCED) administers the City’s Rental Program which provides opportunities for very low, low and moderate income persons to live in safe, decent and sanitary housing. The City has over 230 rental units within its inventory to include single-family housing units, duplexes, and three apartment complexes: Windsor Arms Apartments, Hampton East Apartments, and Broadway Court."

Well, surprise, surprise, the city may not want to manage an apartment complex but the city's website shows it already has 3 along with plenty of other housing. This housing is managed by the Albany Housing Authority for the city, along with the Housing Authority's over 1,000 units in its name. DCED should not be in the housing business as an operator or as a sponsor of projects.

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FormerAlbanianTG 1 year, 6 months ago

Well we all know how this will end . The taxpayers in Albany will get STUCK in a huge debt . Welcome to the "Good. LIfe City " NOT!!!!

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 6 months ago

Buhhh Bye Ms. Cutts! Don't let the door hit ya where tha pit bull bit ya!

Perhaps you can get a job at one of these so-called "ministries" around town! It's a lot more lucrative..........and you don't even have to pay back the loans! Sweet!!!

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Abytaxpayer 1 year, 6 months ago

It would be nice if someone would ask Cutliff what they are doing for their 30% MANAGEMENT fee they are paying themselves each month.....most property managements charge 5%. While most property management is for profit Cutliff claims to be NON-profit and for the "POOR" people of Albany.....At 6 times the going rate sure looks like "Non-Profit"

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FryarTuk 1 year, 6 months ago

This is a mozaic with many pieces. It would take a federal prosecutor to sort it out. I want to become knowledgeable about this project and underlying transactions.

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badcompany 1 year, 6 months ago

Every tax payer in this county should refuse to pay taxes until the leaders here resign and reimburse every cent to us that they have stolen.

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dickyboy 1 year, 6 months ago

So now about the pit bulls..........

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FryarTuk 1 year, 6 months ago

Sounds like they need to be let loose.

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