This is what you call being a day late and a dollar short.
It has been reported that the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is asking the City of Albuquerque to repay $1.4 million in housing grants. (See December 16, 2016 Albuquerque Journal, “Feds ask ABQ to repay$1.4M in housing grants”, A-1).
Albuquerque has now been declared a high risk grantee by HUD.
HUD is now imposing special conditions on the city grant funding and those conditions will have an effect on the city’s ability to draw down on HUD funding.
HUD is raising serious questions about the city’s record keeping, oversight and administration of federal grant money for housing programs that help low income people and our most vulnerable senior citizens.
$500,000 is in jeopardy for the affordable housing project in the SE Heights Trumbull Village area.
$320,000 is in jeopardy for housing programs including the one that helps senior citizens make minor repairs that they cannot afford to their homes.
$600,000 is in jeopardy that is to be used to redevelop the historic El Vado motel on Central near Old Town.
This is extremely upsetting and shows city hall incompetence or at the very least inattention and a failure of due diligence by city management.
When I was Director of the Safe City Strike Force, we would identify blighted areas of the city and identify residential properties that had become magnets for crime and take action.
The Planning Department Code Enforcement Division and the Family Community Service Department had representatives assigned to the Safe City Strike Force.
Both departments were instrumental in securing and getting the type of federal housing grants identified in this article, a process that is labor and paperwork intensive.
The Planning Department Code Inspection Division secured $1 million for the Safe City Strike Force that was used to tear down blighted properties.
One major project I worked on with the Family and Community Service Department was the “Metropolitan Redevelopment Pilot Project” where the City bought, but did not initiate a condemnation action to acquire title, for fair market value blighted multi-housing residential properties.
Entire blocks of property were acquired for redevelopment to build affordable housing in the SE Heights La Mesa Trumbull area.
The Safe City Strike Force was also involved with the closure of the El Vado motel which was later acquired by the City for redevelopment, and it to continues to deteriorate with the passage of time.
The city is blaming the “great recession” as the excuse for the reduction in the redevelopment of the acquired property. This is a bogus argument.
The real reason for reduced redevelopment efforts is City Hall’s lack of interest in helping the poorest parts of our City.
And where is the Albuquerque City Council on this issue, especially City Councilor Pat Davis whose district includes the International District and the La Mesa Trumbull area, or is he too busy designing that new bus stop he secured for the ART Bus project to the tune of $1 million?
Councilor Davis’s constituents in the La Mesa Trumbull are in need affordable low income housing and not a bus stop for a bus no one will use.
The Berry Administration says it’s assembling a team of experts within city hall to address HUD’s concerns when those experts should have been doing their jobs in the first place.
The assembling of experts now is what you call a day late and a dollar short with federal grant money.