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HUD says Augusta must pay back home grants

Incomes of two buyers incorrect

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The city of Augusta must once again pony up to the federal government over alleged misuse of affordable housing grants.

Topic: Augusta Commission
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The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development wants back nearly $95,000 because in 2005 and 2007, two nonprofits sold houses to people who HUD ruled weren't poor enough to qualify for the assistance.

At issue are funds received through the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, grants meant to create housing for low-income families. HUD sends the money to the city, and the city's Housing and Community Development Department disburses it to six nonprofit Community Housing and Development Organizations, or CHDOs, which build and rehab houses.

This would be the second time the city has had to pay HUD over problems predating the tenure of Housing and Community Development Director Chester Wheeler, who started in April 2007. Two years ago, the city had to repay $288,786 after a HUD Inspector General's audit raised questions about HOME expenditures and missing documentation from 2003 to early 2007.

Another audit last year recommended that Augusta pay $94,751 over "unsupported housing activities" involving CHDOs. Assistant Director of Housing Hawthorne Welcher Jr. said he doesn't believe there was any ill intent by Laney Walker Development Corp. and Promise Land Community Development Corp.; they just miscalculated their clients' incomes.

"But the bottom line of it is, all of us have to pay better attention because that can't happen," Welcher said.

Laney Walker Development Corp. Executive Director Anthony Chandler wasn't with the agency when it sold the house at 821 Spruce St. in June 2005 but said the "mishap" appears to involve the buyer, an elderly woman, claiming only herself on her 2004 tax return, but claiming her daughter and two grandchildren on her HOME application.

HUD put her income that year at $41,663, city documents say, well above the $29,900 cap for a one-person household, but that amount stemmed from her losing her job and receiving her retirement pay in a lump sum, Chandler said.

"If HUD would have just looked at the whole situation, there wouldn't have been anything," he said. "She's still low income -- very low income."

Promise Land Director Sheila Boazman said the other case -- the June 2007 sale of the rehabbed home at 3804 Sheila Court -- stemmed from confusion over how much of a war veteran's pay for overseas service should have been included in the calculation. HUD rules say only combat pay can be deducted, which city documents say left the buyer with an income of $44,328 -- well above the $34,200 maximum for a two-person household.

Approval of the city's $94,751 repayment was on Monday's agenda for the Augusta Commission's Administrative Services committee meeting, but the meeting was canceled for lack of a quorum. If the payment is made, both families can stay in their houses, the directors said.

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Chillen
17
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Chillen 06/21/10 - 02:24 pm
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The federal government is

The federal government is DESPERATE for money. Look for much more of this on the horizon. If Augusta is being audited, you will be too, its just a matter of time.

Nightwing
0
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Nightwing 06/21/10 - 02:39 pm
0
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Punish someone who is trying

Punish someone who is trying to get out of the ditch. The system wantsw you to stay under the dirt.

TakeAstand
13
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TakeAstand 06/21/10 - 03:03 pm
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No ill intent, what ever. It

No ill intent, what ever. It was on someones part either theirs or the applicant. It happens daily with gov't assisatance programs, they just don't bother to check.

Deployed
413
Points
Deployed 06/21/10 - 03:25 pm
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0
No such thing as free money.

No such thing as free money.

harrisburgwillrise
0
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harrisburgwillrise 06/21/10 - 03:41 pm
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Rules must be followed,

Rules must be followed, period.

crackerjack
153
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crackerjack 06/21/10 - 06:23 pm
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Ohhhhh Chiquita, where you

Ohhhhh Chiquita, where you is?

dichotomy
37402
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dichotomy 06/21/10 - 08:04 pm
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Let's see, we give taxpayer

Let's see, we give taxpayer money to the wrong people through a program that buys people houses who cannot afford them, cannot afford to maintain them, and cannot afford to pay taxes on them and then WE get in trouble and have to pay the government back more of our tax money to make up for THEIR mistake. Talk about double jeopardy for the working taxpayer. If the feds would stop these handout programs we wouldn't be getting double taxed for incompetence and corruption.

Harrisburg Homeowner
0
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Harrisburg Homeowner 06/21/10 - 08:59 pm
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I agree with you

I agree with you wholeheartedly Dichotomy. Those that cannot afford to maintain housing should not be buying. I understand their desire to get ahead but this only causes problems, not solves them. They have to have a great support system and know the pitfalls of homeownership. I really like the Fuller Foundation's idea of homeownership.

Ole School
1
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Ole School 06/22/10 - 03:30 am
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quit with the darn handouts ,

quit with the darn handouts , no one gives it to us ! , we have to work for what we get !

corgimom
38314
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corgimom 06/22/10 - 04:26 am
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How do low-income people

How do low-income people maintain houses? Ours is one gigantic money pit. Everything- and I do mean everything- in them eventually has to be replaced.

dichotomy
37402
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dichotomy 06/22/10 - 12:49 pm
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Politicians and bureaucrats

Politicians and bureaucrats shuffle money between pots but both pots get filled up out of our pockets. The group(s) that illegally handed out taxpayer money to unqualified people are not being held accountable and we, the RC taxpayer, are being penalized. No unelected group of people should be getting taxpayer money to hand out to anyone. Take the money back from the people who misspent it. Take the houses away from the people who illegally got the money to buy them. Sell the houses and pay back the the taxpayer money. I am tired of filling up the federal pot of money and then having to refill the local pot of money because our politicians and burearcrats are too incompetent to run these (sexually molest) the taxpayer giveaway programs. When will we stop this welfare madness? Every program the government runs is mostly waste, fraud, corruption, and incompetence and that is where MOST of our money goes.

justus4
113
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justus4 06/22/10 - 04:33 pm
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Wait, let me guess. This
Unpublished

Wait, let me guess. This program is designed toward the historically disenfranchised and probably minority citizens. Now, this repayment will be sliced, diced, and turned inside out to determine WHO was responsible. Watch the focus on accountability and "taxpayer's money" being misused. Watch the all-out attempts to get somebody in custody, preferably U know who...the pattern continues.

shamrock
585
Points
shamrock 06/22/10 - 05:01 pm
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Possession is 9/10ths of the

Possession is 9/10ths of the law. We have the money!! It is ours!! Buzz off!!

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