Commissioners vote to repay HUD $$$ - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Commissioners vote to repay HUD $$$

By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) – Albany taxpayers will have to pick up the tab to repay hundreds of thousands of dollars to the federal government. Commissioners voted Tuesday to repay $374,000 to the Department of Housing and Urban Development out of the city's general fund.

The money must be paid back because Cutliff Grove Family Resource Center was deemed ineligible to use it for low and moderate income housing. The city acts as a pass through for HUD money, and ultimately is on the hook to them when a project doesn't come through.

Tuesday, the commission voted to pay back $374,000 in HUD money, but also to ask Congressman Sanford Bishop to intervene to get HUD to reinstate Cutliff Grove Resource Center as eligible to perform the work.

Rev. McKinley Drake says when this project first got underway, he had a vision to rid his community of some of the evil that was so pervasive.

Rev. Drake said, "Five years ago, right in front of the church was dilapidated houses, prostitution and was going on, people we're selling drugs over there and a lot of this was happening on Sunday mornings when our children was coming to church."

And that's why an off-shoot of his church, the Cutliff Grove Family Resource Center, has been working with HUD to develop a project to fill this land with apartments for low and moderate income individuals.  He said, "All we want to do now is get this community clean and put some affordable homes in there."

But HUD deemed Cutliff Grove ineligible and won't give them anymore money. Now the city must pay that money back in order to stay in good standing. 

Mayor Willie Adams said, "We cannot jeopardize future funding from HUD, so we have identified the general fund as being the source where we'll pay the money back." But they'll also send a letter to Congressman Sanford Bishop to see if he can intervene and help Cutliff Grove get re-certified.

Adams said, "The letter that we forwarded to Congressman Bishop was merely to give Congressman Bishop the authority, the go-ahead, so to speak, to contact HUD and see if HUD would be agreeable to grant them another 60 days."

60 additional days to prove that Cutliff Grove does have the means by which to continue this project. Rev. Drake says it's vital to this community.  He said, "It would be a mistake not to make this happen."

If it doesn't though, the city will be left holding the bill.

One matter the commission failed to address Tuesday is whether Cutliff Grove will have to pay the city back for the project if HUD does not change its decision. The commission plans to address that matter in about a month.

The deadline to let HUD know how the city plans to pay back the money is in three days (April 9th). City leaders hope Congressman Bishop may at least help Cutliff Grove get an extension as they try to come up with a way to complete the project.

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