Rockdale selects four firms to run NSP grant

CONYERS - Four asset management firms were identified Monday to run Rockdale County's $2.7 million federally funded Neighborhood Stabilization Program.

Rockdale County Chief of Staff R.J. Hadley said the county's selection panel had selected APD Solutions LLC and the Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership Inc. as the primary firms, and Affordable Housing Community Development of Conyers and Jewel of the South of Lithonia as the secondary firms.

Hadley explained to county commissioners that other jurisdictions, such as the city of Atlanta, were hiring more than one firm to acquire, rehabilitate and sell foreclosed houses in areas hit hardest by foreclosures. He added that the top two local proposals were accepted due to resident requests for more local participation in the program.

"We're following the example of our neighboring counties in hiring several firms, so not to put all of our eggs in one basket," Hadley said.The county culled 16 bids out of 75 received earlier this month that met the requirements. A selection panel rated each of the bids submitted using a scoring system based on services needed.

Hadley noted that the NSP selection panel was expanded to six members after Commissioner JaNice Van Ness expressed concern earlier over the openness of the selection process.

Michael Smith, general manager of the county's Office of Community and Capital Improvements, and county Board of Assessors member Willie C. Barkley were added to the panel that included Hadley, County Grant Administrator Alice Cintron and two Department of Finance employees.

Van Ness had requested two residents to join the panel. Hadley said that may have delayed the program, which was facing deadlines this summer to begin work.

APD Solutions and the Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership were the highest rated among all of the firms. Affordable Housing Community Development and Jewel of the South were the highest rated local firms, Hadley said.

The NSP program is funded through a grant as part of the federal economic stimulus efforts through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and administered by Georgia's Department of Community Affairs (DCA).

Rockdale County sought one or more firms in its request for proposals to identify and acquire foreclosed or abandoned houses, rehabilitate them and develop and implement a process that leads to lasting home ownership.

In an earlier public hearing, Hadley said the county's goal was to select 20 houses to purchase, repair and then find families to move into them. APD Solutions and Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership will provide the bulk of the services and split $1.5 million of the grant money to benefit potential home buyers who earn between 50 and 120 percent of the county's area median income, or AMI, of $71,700 per year.

Affordable Housing Community Development and Jewel of the South will split the remaining 25 percent of the NSP grant money, or $695,000. The firms will work to rehabilitate and sell houses to those whose AMI is 50 percent or lower, as is a stated requirement of the federal grant.

The AMI is adjusted based on the number of individuals in a household. For example, 50 percent of the AMI for a four-person family would be $35,850. Annual income for the same family at 120 percent of the AMI is $86,050.

Hadley said notification letters were being sent out to the firms to confirm participation in the program. He said it is possible that any of the firms could turn down the county's offer based on the company's expectations of how much of the grant money it would be awarded. If a firm does decline to participate, the county could select another firm from those rated by the selection panel.

Hadley said a public hearing to provide an update of the program will be scheduled after the county confirms the firms' participation. He said the next step will be to begin the process of identifying properties that will be rehabilitated.