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City awards $500,000 in HUD funds to Bethel CHDO

ALBANY, Ga. -- There was obvious reluctance on the part of the Albany City Commission, but in the end commissioners gave non-binding approval that would allow AME Bethel Housing L.P. to use $500,000 in federal HOME Investment Partnership Program funds to upgrade and manage an apartment complex in East Albany.

Commissioners questioned staff and developer Steve Brooks with Valdosta-based IDP Housing extensively before voting 5-2 to tentatively approve AME Bethel Housing, which was certified as a Community Housing Development Organization just last week, to receive the funding that will be used as part of a $10.6 million renovation project on a 98-unit affordable housing complex at 507 Swift Street.

Only Housing and Urban Development-certified Community Housing Development Organizations, or CHDOs, qualify for the HOME funding.

"I have a bad feeling about a church selling property to another arm of the church," Ward IV Commissioner Roger Marietta, who voted against the funding, said after Brooks told the commission the apartment complex is currently owned by Bethel AME Church. Brooks also said the complex is 100 percent occupied.

When told by interim Community and Economic Development Director Shelena Hawkins that the project would be AME Bethel Housing's first project as a CHDO, Ward I Commissioner Jon Howard said that alone was cause for a "red flag." Howard later joined Marietta in voting against the HUD financing.

Ward V Commissioner Bob Langstaff lamented the choices faced by the commission.

"I suppose if the money is not spent properly that (the city) could be forced to pay back the loan," Langstaff said of the $500,000 in HOME funding. "And I would assume that the only other option is to send the money back to the federal government and risk losing future funding."

Hawkins confirmed his statements, and her CED colleague, Housing Program Manager Laura McCool, later emphasized that federal guidelines require that a percentage of HOME funding be granted to CHDOs like AME Bethel Housing.

"HUD requires that we assign 15 percent of our total HOME funding to a CHDO," McCool said. "That amount now is anywhere from $55,000 to $92,000. The $500,000 is the collection of unused HOME funds from 2007 to 2012."

Brooks assured the commission any misuse of funding would be the responsibility of the IDP Housing-led project team.

"If there are any violations, it would fall on our organization to repay the funds," he said. "The city would not have any financial obligation."

Brooks said the remaining $10.1 million in funding on the project would come from HUD-insured loans and a $3.8 million investment by a private company that would in return get all applicable federal tax credits.

The apartment complex was built by Bethel AME in 1973 and has been managed by the church since.

"What this will be is a complete upgrade of these apartments," said Brooks, who indicated IDP had been involved in "more than 100" such projects. "The residents will get a modernized apartment with amenities that weren't available when the complex was built."

A vote on the matter is not binding until taken at the city's monthly night session next Tuesday.

Comments

FryarTuk 1 year, 7 months ago

CHODO that's a mythical character in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, right?

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 7 months ago

OH MY GOD NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mamma used to say "even a worm can learn" but clearly that doesn't apply to the freaking geniuses running this freaking city.

Fist stop, Albany Motorcars! New luxury import automobiles for the team! YAYYYY!!

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MRKIA 1 year, 7 months ago

THE MATH SAYS 100K PLUS PER UNIT. IT'S CHEAPER TO BUY 98 100K HOMES AND KEEP THEM ON THE TAX ROLLS.

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ustaknow 1 year, 7 months ago

The mind of a liberal: We will apply for a block grant for an urban housing development and build our poor a nice place to live. So this happens and the population in that region multiplies- then they build a school or buy many buses to move kids to the schools. Then the new found need for tax revenues take hold and so they raise property taxes or create a new splost to fund this dream. Then one day this liberal runs for office saying i helped build that- meanwhile all the kids in the run down housing are saying we need to get up out of the hood. But now we are blaming racism as the culprit for the hoods being mostly minorities when if fact it was the dream of the liberal that brought about this mass concentration of the people in the name of help. So ,in effect, it is the liberals who are sowing the seeds of racism but do not quite understand that they are in fact racist because that was never their intent. It is a vicious cycle that the liberals repeat over and over- meanwhile the people that inhabit these newly built subsidize federal housing programs are lost as to why it is always me that is stuck in the hood- so they branch out and some become liberal politicians that repeat the same cycle all over again. On the other end is the working class who is being taxed to poverty to pay for anyone and everything- but when this person needs uncles Sam, He says " you don't Qualify '

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dingleberry 1 year, 7 months ago

Isn't one Arthur K Williams a principal (CFO) in the group that bought this complex awhile back with several million of Stimulus money? And isn't over $100,000 a unit for renovations just a little steep for a low income project? Makes Cutliff look like a good deal.

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whattheheck 1 year, 7 months ago

The entire complex is valued at $2.5 million for tax purposes. So we sponsor a rape of the taxpayer to pay 4 times the value of the complex in renovations? I suppose the amenities not available when these were built will include the best cabinetry, built in microwave, fridge with juice in door, and the counter tops of the finest granite we can buy. First class fornicating for the taxpayer.

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southwestga 1 year, 7 months ago

$108,000 per unit for renovation of low income housing??

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whattheheck 1 year, 7 months ago

Howard and Marietta the only two on the commission with a brain, for a change? Getting past the birth of the new CHODO, isn't it strange this 98 unit complex has a 100% occupancy rate while the 42 unit Cutliff project has a 16% "permanent" vacancy rate?

IDP's website certainly does not support the "100 project" comment since all shown is artists renderings of projects to come. Look hard, look real hard!

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FryarTuk 1 year, 7 months ago

I am surprised that Milquetoad voted agin it. He does have another bite at it on the next vote. Let's hope I stay surprised.

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DoctorDorite 1 year, 7 months ago

All indications are this is WRONG on the Federal and local level and a very "stupid" move by local politicans. They will have so many Federal investagators eyeing/investigating personal/private finances of the commissioners and church officials. I say several will serve prison time over this when the bucks start spreading around, so grab a bag of popcorn & just sit back and watch. The bright side of the matter is its one way to purge the commission and thats "Priceless".

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RedEric 1 year, 7 months ago

Brooks said "don't worry, it is our responsibility to repay the money. You won't have to" how many times does the commission have to hear that before they get suspicious? I don't know Brooks, but our starting position is this. I am a member of an Albany minority, a taxpayer. You Mr. brooks are a crook. Maybe your position will change towards the positive, but I won't put any money on it. And so what does it matter if we lose future federal funding. If a project will not cash flow then don't do it! Albany taxpayers cannot afford any more free federal money.

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Bulldawg 1 year, 7 months ago

Move over Magic Bus, time to get on the handout bus. Here we go again. Albany just goes from one give a way program to the next.

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GeeGee 1 year, 7 months ago

I thank God everyday I do not live in Dougherty Co. I also spend as little as possible here. I have made it a goal in my life not to do it. I go to Columbus even though the sales tax is higher at least it goes to more worthy projects. With this thought in mind, more of you could do the same and kill a lot of these worthless projects. Over on Swift is also a gang and drug ghetto.

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J.D._Sumner 1 year, 7 months ago

FYI -- the fund for low-income housing for the HOME program aren't from sales tax dollars or property tax dollars, they're from your federal income tax dollars, which you pay regardless of where you live or shop.

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KaosinAlbany 1 year, 7 months ago

It's is still tax payer funds no matter how you see it. It is still wrong!!!!

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RedEric 1 year, 7 months ago

We will be liable for the $500,000 if the money is misused. Oh, when has that ever happened! Funding a $10.6 million project for a $2.2 million property leaves lotsa room for misuse.

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jglass 1 year, 7 months ago

Good Grief....................STOP spending the money!!!!! Stop giving it away!!! Have they not learned anything?

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Albanite 1 year, 7 months ago

You may as well get out the city checkbook to cover the default. If nothing else, this proves that Albany would be better off with no city commission at all. Can we just convince them to stop meeting? That way they can't keep screwing up.

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southwestga 1 year, 7 months ago

The first paragraph says the project is to upgrade and manage the complex. But Marietta is quoted as saying the church is selling it to Bethel Housing LP. Which is it? The church built the apartments in the 70's. Is there still a mortgage? How much will the church make from this transaction?

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whattheheck 1 year, 7 months ago

Of course there still is. Go to the Census Bureau's Audit Clearinghouse on the internet and do a search for audits on the project (Bethel Housing Complex Inc.). There is a $2.2 million flexible subsidy loan. Complex also got $300,000 in "interest reduction payments" and $700,000 in Sec 8 payments in year ending 12/31/2011. Not a bad haul, eh?

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whattheheck 1 year, 7 months ago

This whole thing is being put together by two companies out of Valdosta. Albany AME Bethel Housing Partners and IDP SIG Bethel LLC are the same. Whole thing looks shakey. Is the CDHO these guys or the church? Very confusing who the players are and exactly how the scam is structured.

"And I would assume that the only other option is to send the money back to the federal government and risk losing future funding." Earth to Bob, there is no way the Feds will cut off support to the most worthy poverty city. But if they did, perhaps Albany could be saved. The fed money has put us where we are now in growing poverty.

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MRKIA 1 year, 7 months ago

IT SEEMS TO BE COMMON IN THIS AREA TO BUILD 100K+ HOUSING FOR POOR FOLK, SUBSIDIZE THEIR RENT AND LET THEM LIVE THERE FOR LIFE. BEFORE LONG THE AREA TURNS INTO A HELL-HOLE OF DRUGS AND GANGS.

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MRKIA 1 year, 7 months ago

IT SEEMS TO BE COMMON IN THIS AREA TO BUILD 100K+ HOUSING FOR POOR FOLK, SUBSIDIZE THEIR RENT AND LET THEM LIVE THERE FOR LIFE. BEFORE LONG THE AREA TURNS INTO A HELL-HOLE OF DRUGS AND GANGS. BUILD A POLICE SUB STATION INTO THE DESIGN AND CONTROL ACCESS. IT SHOULD BE MANDATORY FOR ALL GOV. FUNDED HOUSING PROJECTS.

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MRKIA 1 year, 7 months ago

IT SEEMS TO BE COMMON IN THIS AREA TO BUILD 100K+ HOUSING FOR POOR FOLK, SUBSIDIZE THEIR RENT AND LET THEM LIVE THERE FOR LIFE. BEFORE LONG THE AREA TURNS INTO A HELL-HOLE OF DRUGS AND GANGS. BUILD A POLICE SUB STATION INTO THE DESIGN AND CONTROL ACCESS. IT SHOULD BE MANDATORY FOR ALL GOV. FUNDED HOUSING PROJECT.

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KaosinAlbany 1 year, 7 months ago

Just an FYI - look up 514 Willard Avenue (where the gang murders were on Sunday) on Qpublic and you will find that property is owned by none other than DCED. Hey, this is public record, people and public housing!!!!

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whattheheck 1 year, 7 months ago

Also 506, 510, 512, and 518 Willard, If we eliminate all the criminals in public/subsidized housing, most of the crime in Albany would cease.

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KaosinAlbany 1 year, 7 months ago

Exactly, cut the funding off at the head and perhaps the gang bangers and drug dealers will move to some other poor town.

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rightasrain 1 year, 7 months ago

C'mon...why expect a dominately black controlled CC to do anything other than to continue greasing the wheel. The CC knows damn well that we taxpayers will be bailing them out and there will be no accountability required. Just more smoke and mirrors to put tax dollars into the hands of Obamaites.

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Ihope4albany 1 year, 7 months ago

There is a need for the federal, state, and local governments to really examine their long-term policies of creating a permanent underclass. No strategic plan had ever been implemented by this nation to really address the root causes of poverty in the former slave belt. So, we should not be surprised all these decades later when the growing descendent population continues to be flat busted, broke, disgusted, and alienated, which will lead to a total state of anomie.

I have hope though that justice and God will prevail in the end in that Great Day.

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AuntieDee 1 year, 7 months ago

Ok, seems that all the fuss is because this is on the eastside and Bethal is involved. Will it make you guys happpier if they reloacate this place on Westover or Beatty Rd and let Shewood Baptist take it over?

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 7 months ago

In a word.............HELL NO!! The entire principle is flawed!!!!!!!

How does it feel, AuntieDee to be WRONG AGAIN?? To see the world through "Race-Colored Glasses" ?????

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KaosinAlbany 1 year, 6 months ago

Nope! Cutliff Grove left a bad taste in the taxpayers' mouths.

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 7 months ago

In case any of you thought it was only happening here in Albany.....

WASHINGTON – It was billed as a state-of-the-art transportation hub that was going to give students at South Carolina State University a leg up on the competition.

The four building, 33-acre complex, named after its most famous alumnus, Rep. James Clyburn, would be a monument to the future -- where students could get hands-on experience and be a part of groundbreaking research in transportation.

Fast forward 15 years and the site once called the "project of the future" has morphed into a money-sucking pit. Aside from the $24 million in federal funding already spent on the project, an estimated $80 million more is needed to finish it. Of the four proposed buildings, only one has been constructed, and the program's core goal -- to provide educational and research opportunities to students at new high-tech facilities -- has obviously not been met.

Federal funding, as of now, has been suspended. But the school could still reapply, and the largely undeveloped site stands as an example of money that could have been saved for a rainy day -- funded by the same department that's now moving forward with serious sequester-related cuts.

Funding for the James E. Clyburn Transportation Center was earmarked by Congress, through the Department of Transportation.

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 7 months ago

continuing......

Since accusations of gross mismanagement hit the school, Clyburn's enthusiasm seemed to ease a bit for the problem-plagued project. But instead of blaming the school and reported mishandling of resources, Clyburn believes the problem is a political one.

"The faculty and the school have become victims of vicious manufactured attacks by political partisans, and that is unfortunate for the university and the students who would benefit from this program," Clyburn said in a written statement.

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