Tag Archives: THDA

THDA to spend $1.5M patching homes

The Tennessee Housing Development Agency has a new $1.5 million home repair program targeting older houses in economically challenged counties, reports the Kingsport Times-News.

Gov. Bill Haslam has agreed to commit $500,000 of Appalachian Regional Commission funding to the pilot program, while THDA will match the state’s pledge with $1 million of its own funds in order to launch the program early next year.

The program will help patch roofs, fix wiring, update plumbing, and make other repairs for Appalachian families who cannot afford to bring their homes up to code on their own, according to THDA Executive Director Ralph Perrey.

“The Appalachian region includes some areas of Tennessee that are among the most difficult for state agencies to serve despite a high number of families in need,” Perrey said in a prepared release. “It’s important to be creative in order to reach these families, and this program provides us with a unique opportunity to meet that goal.”

This is the first time the state of Tennessee has committed a portion of its ARC funding to a THDA housing program. Under the program, state dollars will be dedicated to 12 so-called “distressed” counties as identified by ARC. The $1 million in THDA funding will be allocated in these areas along with 19 other counties identified by ARC as “at risk.”

…Distressed ARC counties in Tennessee include Bledsoe, Campbell, Cocke, Fentress, Grundy, Hancock, Johnson, Lewis, Pickett, Rhea, Scott, and Van Buren.

At-Risk ARC counties include Carter, Claiborne, Clay, Grainger, Greene, Jackson, Jefferson, Lawrence, Macon, McMinn, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Overton, Polk, Unicoi, Union, Warren, and White.

THDA changes tax credit program for low-income housing

The Tennessee Housing Development Agency has eliminated a controversial aspect of its system for awarding tax credits and instead will make decisions based on a score assigned to each of the state’s 95 counties based on its need for low-income housing.

The THDA board approved the change last week following criticism of the tax credit program from House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner. Mike Blade, director of THDA’s multifamily development division, said it had been in the works for months and was discussed at THDA’s July board meeting, though a decision was postponed until the September meeting.

Turner, citing two East Tennessee projects approved earlier this year, contended the present system “encourages people, if not to cheat, to at least push the envelope to the very edge.”

In recent years, Tennessee has been receiving about $14 million in annual federal corporate tax credits for allocation by THDA to low-income housing. The credits are almost the equivalent of cash, typically sold — perhaps for around 85 cents on the dollar — by developers who win them.

That substantially reduces the amount of money the developer has to borrow to build a project which, in turn, substantially reduces the amount of rent people living in the projects must pay for the developer to earn a profit.
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Turner on THDA award of tax credits: either fraud or incompetence

A leading Democratic legislator says either fraud or incompetence was involved in awarding millions of dollars worth of tax credits for development of two low-income housing projects in East Tennessee — one to a company where a top aide to Gov. Bill Haslam once worked.

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner outlined concerns about the projects in Anderson and Sullivan counties at a hearing on Tennessee Housing Development Agency last week and urged colleagues on a joint House-Senate panel to delay giving THDA a new lease on life pending a full investigation of “potentially illegal activities going on.”

“We have a system that encourages people, if not to cheat, to at least push the envelope to the very edge,” said Turner.

Republican members of the Government Operations Joint Subcommittee unanimously voted down the request, though Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, and Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, pledged to hold a hearing on the issue if Turner’s concerns are not resolved by his planned followup meetings with THDA officials.

“I don’t believe anything illegal is going on with the low-income tax credit program,” THDA Executive Director Ralph Perrey told the legislators, though he acknowledged developers strive to manipulate the complicated system to their advantage in an “intensely competitive” effort to win limited tax credits each year. There are sometimes “judgment calls” made that are subject to dispute, he said.

Perrey said he believes complaints coming to Turner are the result of developers who “have an ax to grind” because they failed to get credits for their projects.
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LIHEAP Moves from DHS to THDA

News release from state Department of Human Services:
NASHVILLE, TN (June 17, 2013) – New Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) applicants will need to apply on October 1 instead of July 1. Administration of the federal program designed to assist households of low income pay utility bills will be transferred from the Tennessee Department of Human Services (DHS) to the Tennessee Housing Development Agency (THDA) effective October 1, 2013.
Given LIHEAP’s transition to THDA, funds offered through the program will now be awarded to coincide with the federal fiscal year beginning October 1.
“Transitioning LIHEAP was identified during our Customer Focused Government process, formally known as the Top to Bottom Review, as a potential opportunity to increase efficiency and effectiveness in service to the people of Tennessee, said Department of Human Services’ Commissioner Raquel Hatter. “DHS is excited about this transition to improve customer service through better service alignment. We look forward to continued collaboration with community partners and THDA.”

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Yager Says THDA Will Get Special Scrutiny

News release from Senate Republican Caucus:
NASHVILLE – State Senator Ken Yager (R-Harriman), Chairman of the Senate State and Local Government Committee, said today he has put the Tennessee Housing Development Agency (THDA) on notice regarding his committee’s intentions to carefully review their spending practices. THDA came under fire after lavish spending on employee-related activities was uncovered in an investigative report by WTVF-TV in Nashville. The State and Local Government Committee reviews THDA’s budget and is responsible for recommending changes to the full Senate in the agency’s spending plan.
“It is essential that not only you but also the entire agency recognize that THDA is a state agency,” said Chairman Yager in a letter to Perrey. “This demands the agency have the fiscal discipline that is expected of every state agency. In fact, the nature of the agency’s work is such that it should be held to an even higher standard.”
“The Senate Committee I chair on State and Local Government will be reviewing the progress you make in implementing needed reforms in the coming months,” the letter continued.
THDA was created by the General Assembly in 1973 to provide housing assistance to Tennesseans in need by offering a variety of housing-related programs, especially for those with low incomes. Until October, the agency was led by Executive Director Ted Fellman.
Perrey was questioned by Yager on Monday regarding the expenditures at a meeting of the Joint Fiscal Review Committee, which also has legislative oversight responsibilities for state spending.
“We’ve lost sight of the good you do because of these outrageous activities that were funded through your budget,” Yager told Perrey at that hearing.
He also asked Perrey about whether he expressed concerns as a former THDA Board member before being selected as the new Executive Director. Perrey said he was not aware of some of the more lavish expenditures but pledged that they would not be repeated.
“Director Perrey has given us his word that the Agency will not repeat these excessive expenditures and we are going to hold him to that,” added Yager. “We will be holding THDA fully accountable for the dollars they spend.”

New THDA Chief Pledges Less ‘Employee Appreciation’

State lawmakers are taking the Tennessee Housing Development Agency to task for tens of thousands of dollars spent on arcade outings and stretch limos, reports WPLN.
THDA’s new director appeared before the Fiscal Review Committee Monday. Agency chief Ralph Perrey says now that he’s at the helm – quote – “what you will not see is us spending money to treat ourselves.”
THDA now estimates $75,000 was spent over the last two years on rewards. But before becoming executive director this month, Perrey was on the THDA board. So lawmakers ask why he didn’t act then.
“I was aware that we were doing some employee appreciation events. That didn’t raise a red flag to me when I heard it. It should have.”

See also a report on the hearing from Phil Williams, who first pointed out the spending on employee appreciation.