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Votes

ARHA Adopts Deficit Budget

Commissioners revise budget, cite costs.

With only five of the nine commissioners present Monday night, Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority Board adopted a revised 2005 budget of $25,309,005 in income and $25,914,739 in expenditures, projecting an expanded $605,734 deficit.

A major cause of this has been a $264,552 operating deficit in the authority's public housing program as a result of cuts in funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, increased utility costs and a reduction in rental income, according to Derrick McDaniel, finance director, ARHA.

For the period ending June 30, 2005, public housing operated at a deficit of $132,626. For the period ending July 31, that deficit had risen to $210,455.

"HUD is not providing Housing Authorities with 100 percent of operating subsidy and ARHA dwelling rent is short approximately 14 percent of projected revenue. Currently, ARHA is only receiving on average approximately 86 percent of the projected operating subsidy from HUD," according to ARHA financial report for the first six months of 2005.

"We have a larger deficit than originally projected. How do we intend to deal with that?" asked ARHA Board Vice Chair Carlyle C. Ring Jr.

"We have approximately $500,000 in replacement reserves due to the Glebe Park escrow mortgage account which includes escrow reserves. This is a short-term solution, but not long term," McDaniel said.

Ring summed up the decision before the vote.

"If I understand the situation correctly, we are recognizing the reality that we have less revenue and more expenditures than anticipated," Ring said. The revised budget was approved unanimously.

ARHA has recently made its Section 8 Housing Program available to relocated evacuees from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, according to William Dearman, executive director, ARHA. "Staff has been working with Katrina evacuees at the D.C. Armory to help them find housing if they want to stay in this area," he said.

"We have issued eight Section 8 vouchers and we have more available. But many of the families want to return to New Orleans," Dearman told the commissioners.

"We had five Section 8 landlords attend the meeting. They waived application fees and other fees to expedite housing for evacuee families. We also rented a van to give them a tour of what housing was available and to introduce them to Alexandria in general," he said.

DEARMAN ALSO REPORTED that as of Sept. 8 "keys for 45 units have been turned over to ARHA" for Chatham Square units. The remaining seven will be turned over this week, he stated in his board report.

As for the replacement units at the three off-site locations, "We will be leasing up these units in the next three months. They must be filled by Dec. 31. Forty-eight families must be in them by that date," in order to meet tax credit requirements, he told the commissioners.

However, in his report Dearman noted that the builder, Enterprise Homes, has listed "tentative lease dates of Dec. 1, 2005 and Jan. 1, 2006" for the Reynolds and South Whiting streets properties.

"ARHA has asked that Enterprise Homes deliver a legal opinion as to the Jan. 1 lease date and its affect on the tax credits for the property," he stated.

"The proposed change orders already exceed $1 million with no known figure associated with the cost to accelerate the project schedule. Many of the change orders relate to unsuitable soil conditions, changes to the plans during the permitting process and architectural and engineering errors. To date, $3,456,583 has been requisitioned, which represents 29.23 percent of the total contract price," Dearman wrote in his report.

At the beginning of the meeting, the board heard a presentation by James Loure representing the Darryl Green Foundation pertaining to personnel resources that the foundation is planning to make available to ARHA's Family Resource Learning Center. It will be a joint partnership with ARHA, according to Marye Ish, director, ARHA Housing Operations.

"They will be supplying the analysis piece of the partnership. We are going to apply to the Alexandria Community Trust for funds to finance two positions that will be filled by personnel from the Darryl Green Foundation," Ish said.

Loure emphasized the benefit the program will bring to Alexandria's youth population.

"We teach every kid that comes into our program how to succeed. The Foundation, in partnership with ARHA, will bring something to this city not seen before," Loure said.

"Every kid that comes into our program signs a contract along with their parents. We assess every aspect of their life, both at home and at school," he said.

The Foundation has a number of centers operating in housing authorities throughout the nation, according to Ish. "They will bring expertise and contacts we certainly do not have," she said.