Nash withdraws from housing pact
BY LINDELL JOHN KAY
Sunday, September 23, 2018
Citing concerns that federal funds aren't being administered properly, the Nash County Board of Commissioners voted last week to leave the Rocky Mount-run Down East Home Consortium.
The consortium receives direct funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development then allocates those funds through local agreements to repair houses.
Nash County has decided not to participate going forward with new funding but will continue to work to spend the funds already allocated in prior funding cycles, said Nash County Planning Director Nancy Nixon.
“We've had a growing concern over the last few years about the level of administration and the high turnover rate of administrators,” said Nash County board Chairman Robbie Davis.
Nash County has a great reputation when it comes to administrating grants, and commissioners don't want anything to change that, Davis said.
“It's not worth the risk,” Davis said.
Local officials have also told the Telegram that the consortium is under investigation by HUD.
“We are not aware of an investigation or review,” said Tameka Kenan-Norman, the city's chief communication officer.
Nixon said 100 homes in Nash County have been repaired in the past 23 years.
“However, administration has become tougher as funding decreases and spending in Nash County to repair homes has dropped off significantly in recent years,” Nixon said. “The county will continue low-moderate income home repair programs through the N.C. Housing Finance Agency and Community Development Block Grant programs.”
Nash County has been part of the consortium since its inception in 1995. Nash and Edgecombe counties joined with Rocky Mount, the lead entity, and several municipalities to provide housing rehabilitation for homeowners and rental properties, as well as new apartment construction for low-income residents.
Participation is governed through a three-year consortium agreement, which was being considered for renewal when Nash commissioners voted to withdraw instead.
“During the past several years, Nash County has not seen the same advantages from participation that we did in the earlier years of the Consortium,” Nixon said. “Federal funding for the program has declined, and the number of homes in rural Nash County that have been repaired has also declined in recent years. The last one completed was in January 2017.”
As of July 31, 2018, no new units have been committed for funding and repair.
“Nash County realizes that the city’s staff has seen turnover in the past few years, but the performance regarding expending Nash County’s allocated share has deteriorated,” Nixon said. “Regional commitments of the DEHC have not been prioritized, and no progress appears to have been made under the one-year extension.”
The consortium will continue to exist, but with a smaller combined population when HUD recalculates the allocation formula.
Nash County officials expect the consortium to continue working to spend outstanding funds previously allocated to Nash County from the funding years during the county’s participation.
The resolution passed by the Nash commissioners states: “Nash County Board of Commissioners determines that it is in Nash County’s best interest to cease participation in the Down East HOME Consortium and not renew the Consortium Agreement effective July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2021, but will continue to work with the Down East HOME Consortium to expend all funds allocated to Nash County for funding cycles prior to June 30, 2018.”