Originally created 05/28/03

Officials approve transfer of grant



Augusta commissioners approved a measure Tuesday to move more than $5,000 in federal grant money from a halfway house to other social services agencies.

The administrative services committee voted unanimously to allow Augusta's social services agencies to use funds that would otherwise have to be returned to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The full commission will vote on the matter Monday.

Transition Centers Inc., a Wrightsboro Road substance abuse treatment and housing program for low-income people, is the subject of an investigation by federal and local housing officials for violations of federal regulations.

The committee approved a $5,823 grant held over from 2002. More than $7,600, however, might have to be repaid by the city to HUD because of the violations.

The head of the center, the Rev. Maggie Banks, told commissioners that she has complied with federal and local regulators and will now work to operate independently from federal restrictions.

"They asked us not to do church on the site, and we moved it," she said. "They asked us not to use the van for church, we did that. I've done everything they've asked us to do."

While at the meeting, the Rev. Banks denied reports that the agency had been renting apartments to members of her church who don't did not meet the low-income requirements.

The $5,823, combined with another community development block grant turned down by another group,, means that more than $10,000 could be distributed to other agencies.

Agencies such as Catholic Social Services, the Salvation Army and the CSRA Economic Opportunity Authority Inc. will receive extra money - more than $1,000 per agency, according to the Augusta Housing and Neighborhood Development Department.

Reach Jeremy Craig at (706) 823-3409 or at jeremy.craig@augustachronicle.com.