Uncle Sam wants HUD $$$ now - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Uncle Sam wants HUD $$$ now

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By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –  The federal government won't give the city of Albany an extension to repay hundreds of thousands of dollars given for a failed housing development.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development wants the city to repay almost $375,000 of federal money immediately.

HUD says Cutliff Grove Family Resource Center is no longer eligible to continue the project. Cutliff Grove Family Resource Center was awarded the money for Grove Town apartments in 2005. Construction was supposed to start within a year. But five years later, nothing has been built on the site.

Mayor Willie Adams says the decision by HUD to require repayment isn't surprising... it's something the city was waiting on. "We were prepared to write the check even before this appeal was made."

Now, the city must sign a check in the amount of nearly $374,000 of taxpayer money to HUD.

The reason? Cutliff Grove Family Resource Center was no longer capable of funding their part of the project and was deemed ineligible to move forward. 

 "They did list some of the things they were concerned about. Number one was, generally when they appropriate the money, they have one year in order to see some structure coming out of the ground and that did not happen."

Even today, there has been no movement on the site nearly five years after the project was slated to begin. But we do know where some of the money went.

 $97,000 went back to Cutliff Grove to pay for the land it had purchased for the development. Approximately $50,000 went to Cutliff Grove for Developer's fees.

$23,000 went for relocation of people who once lived on the site whose homes were demolished.

Less than two weeks ago, Congressman Sanford Bishop asked HUD to allow a 60 day deferment for repayment of funds, but it didn't work, and the city must fork up the cash, and they'll go after Cutliff Grove to pay them back. 

"We certainly will request to be paid back, no question about it. First thing is the property that they own, we'll make an attempt to get that as a partial payment on the total figure."

But something else there's no question about, in order to continue to receive HUD funds in the future, the city must pay back the money in its entirety.

Cutliff Grove Reverend McKinley Drake said now that HUD has rejected the deferment, this situation lies in the hands of the city commission. When asked if the Resource Center planned to repay the money, he declined comment.

The city has already committed to repay the money using the General fund. They are discussing a repayment plan with HUD to pay four quarterly installments of approximately $94,000 each.


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