Federal funds to fix up public housing

Macon getting bulk of money locally

jgaines@macon.comMarch 21, 2014 

Housing authorities in Middle Georgia are getting $3.6 million in capital funding from the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development, with $2.4 million of that heading for the Macon Housing Authority.

June Parker, the authority’s executive director, said the annual appropriation will be used for a wide variety of upgrades across 2,200 units: heater and air-conditioner replacement at Murphey Homes, refrigerators and stoves at Tindall Heights and dryer connections in many of the authority’s locations.

“We actually have a 20-year plan for when things have to be done,” she said.

The formula-based funding can only be used for modernization and repair projects, with a small allowance for administration costs, Parker said. But the Macon Housing Authority, following a standard set by former Executive Director John Hiscox, uses the full amount for actual work rather than administration costs.

About 3,100 housing authorities nationwide are to get $1.8 billion this year under the Capital Fund Program, HUD spokesman Jereon Brown said in a news release.

“While the funding ... will never be enough to meet the tremendous backlog of capital needs, HUD will be working closely with the Congress to expand efforts to generate approximately $6 billion in private investment for the recapitalization of public housing,” HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan said in the release.

A 2011 HUD report estimated that the 1.1 million public housing units nationwide need $25.6 billion in major repairs.

Altogether Georgia housing authorities are getting $63 million. The Warner Robins and Houston County housing authorities are slated to receive a total of $524,183, while Milledgeville’s authority will get $403,700. And authorities in the following cities also are receiving money: $115,446 for Fort Valley, $78,737 for Roberta, $53,894 for Perry and $33,617 for Byron.

The money will be available for use in May or June, Parker said, but it will be parceled out to contractors on individual projects.

“You get your money as you need it,” she said.

Though the annual funding is important, it’s been steadily decreasing for a decade, Parker said.

In 2013 area housing authorities got $3.9 million from the Capital Fund Program, of which $2.7 million went to the Macon Housing Authority. This year’s funding is a decline of $300,000 for Middle Georgia. The Macon Housing Authority took all but a few thousand dollars of the loss.

To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.

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