Tag Archives: Agency

THDA Spurns Fed Funds for Housing Low-income, Disabled

The state’s housing agency turned down the chance to apply for $12 million in federal rental assistance for people with disabilities — overruling a recommendation by its own staff and by the state’s TennCare Medicaid agency.
More from The Tennessean:
Advocates for the disabled say the funding is desperately needed to address a housing crisis among people with disabilities who want to live independently but who are often forced into homelessness or into institutions, which cost the state more money.
The aid is the only major new source of federal funding available this year for people who are very poor and have physical, mental or developmental disabilities, said Ann O’Hara, associate director for Boston-based Technical Assistance Collaborative Resource Center on Supportive Housing, a consulting firm. O’Hara said her agency has worked with at least 20 other states that have expressed interest in the funding.
The 2010 law creating the new Section 811 rental assistance program was passed with rare bipartisan support, with unanimous votes in both the House and Senate. It requires no upfront state money, but it does require that the state Medicaid agency partner with a housing agency to provide vouchers that people can use to pay their landlords.
Board members of the Tennessee Housing and Development Agency at their July 24 meeting shelved the plan to apply for a piece of the $85 million in funding that just became available, declining to take a vote. The deadline for applications passed on July 31.
A memo from THDA staff members to the board said “staff recommends board approval to submit an application.” TennCare also recommended that the state apply for the maximum state allotment of $12 million, saying the money would pay for TennCare’s efforts to keep people out of nursing homes.
Board member Ralph Perrey said he had philosophical differences with the federal program requiring a 20-year commitment from states but offering only five years of guaranteed funding, with annual congressional approval required afterward.
O’Hara said that all programs subsidized by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development that THDA and other agencies already administer come with similar terms. Programs for the homeless and for seniors and Section 8 rental vouchers operate in the same way, she said.
Executive Director Tim Fellman said he and other board members were concerned that the program capped administrative costs at 5 percent of the federal grant.
That could mean THDA would have to use its own money to cover administrative costs of the program, he said

TN ‘Mortgage Hotline’ Set Up to Help Struggling Homeowners

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee attorney general and Tennessee Housing Development Agency have created a mortgage hotline for struggling homeowners.
The development comes after attorneys general across the country reached an agreement with the nation’s top five mortgage services that will provide an estimated $140 million in relief to Tennesseans.
Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper said the idea behind the hotline is to make sure the state’s homeowners get the help they deserve.
Homeowners calling the new hotline can learn about housing assistance programs or be directed to foreclosure prevention counselors.
The toll-free number is (855) 876-7283. It is available Monday through Friday, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Central time.

Note: News release below.

Continue reading

HRA Offers Free Rides to Get a Photo ID for Voting

The East Tennessee Human Resource Agency is doing its part to help Tennesseans comply with the state’s new voter ID law, according to the News Sentinel.
Photo ID cards are being offered at no cost to registered voters at driver service centers throughout the state. And several county clerk offices, including Knox County’s, have begun offering free photo driver’s licenses to replace outdated, non-photo licenses.
ETHRA now hopes to further aid citizens’ access to the voting process by offering its extensive public transportation system for those unable to make the trip to obtain a new ID.
“It will be incorporated as part of our regular transportation program,” said Sandy Lamb, ETHRA operations and services director. “Hopefully, people won’t be discouraged from voting.”
ETHRA operates a fleet of more than 100 vehicles throughout Knox and 15 surrounding counties. ETHRA drivers complete 1,400 trips each day, helping connect people with dialysis centers, doctors’ offices, jobs, senior centers, grocery stores and more, Lamb said.

TEMA Slow in Making Disaster Recovery Payments

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency knows about a state audit that shows public disaster recovery money is getting paid slowly but a spokesman said there are three public assistance employees and the agency is working as fast as it can.
The performance audit by the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office said TEMA takes an average of three months, sometimes longer, to repay local costs for cleanup and repair of public property after a disaster.
“Delaying passing through of funds to county and local governments and certain nonprofit organizations can delay cleanup and recovery work, which can elevate costs and increase problems,” the audit said.

Continue reading