Originally created 11/29/00

Backs local HUD agency over ANIC 112900 - The Augusta Chronicle

The Chronicle's Nov. 19 editorial, "Invest in housing program" exhibits poor judgment and misinformation.

You want Augusta to turn over the management of the Housing and Neighborhood Development HUD programs to a new organization with no track record (Augusta Neighborhood Improvement Corp.), have the city fund the administration costs of the best publicly-funded non-profit in the city, and get rid of the only seasoned HUD administrator (Kevin Mack).

ANIC's executive director, Robert Cooks, is new in this position and has only the guidance of an inexperienced board that is new to public service and has never dealt with government agencies or public funds. Although Mr. Cooks may be a "dynamic change agent and no-nonsense manager," the organization is still a fledgling and has yet to rehabilitate a single dwelling.

In 1999 using $6.4 million in federal and private funds, Mr. Mack's agency was able to rehabilitate 100 single-unit structures and 116 multi-unit structures. Let's hope ANIC is as efficient.

The problem with your assessment is that you apparently are innocent of the structural organization of the HUD programs which includes not just a housing rehab section, but the Emergency Shelter Grant program that funds most of the homeless service provider organizations in town.

It also supplements many human service non-profit budgets, missions that are not on ANIC's scope or in its charter. Fund allocations for the HUD programs are determined by federal mandate and a politically appointed "citizen's advisory board" that offers some local oversight.

Any merged entity would find the HUD budget portion still administered in the same manner. So where would efficiency be achieved?

Additionally, Augusta doesn't now pay administration costs and it is doubtful that ANIC should look forward to any future city dollars as well.

Edward A. Giusto, Augusta


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