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Rockdale drops NSP contract

CONYERS — Rockdale County terminated one of the four asset management firms for its Neighborhood Stabilization Program due to failure to meet contractual obligations.

The Rockdale County Board of Commissioners voted last week to approve termination of the contract with Conyers-based Affordable Housing Community Development. Finance Director Roselyn Miller told the commissioners the Rockdale NSP faces a Sept. 5 deadline where federal authorities could take away, or "recapture," any unobligated money of the $2.7 million grant awarded to the county in March 2009.

"We have to have all the funds obligated at that point. If not, they will be looking at recapturing the funds," Miller said. "So, we're in the process of reviewing all asset management firms, their progress and performance."

She said there was a possibility that one or more of the remaining three firms could also lose their contracts with the Rockdale NSP. "So, from this time until September, we will be presenting contracts either asking for termination of contracts or allocating the remaining funds to the other three firms since we're requesting to terminate one."

The portion of funding provided to Affordable Housing Community Development was $355,059 and will likely be redistributed to the remaining three vendors, Miller said.

The Sept. 5 deadline is one imposed by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development to all jurisdictions receiving NSP grant money. The deadline is a mechanism written into the Congressional appropriations bill to ensure the money is used for its intended purpose, according to Glenn Misner, community development field services director with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. The DCA is charged with overseeing the NSP grants in Georgia.

The Rockdale NSP is funded with federal economic stimulus money through a grant from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. The purpose of the program is to find qualified homebuyers to purchase foreclosed houses.

The asset management firms hired by Rockdale County were contracted to identify and acquire foreclosed or abandoned houses, rehabilitate them and develop and implement a process that leads to lasting home ownership, according to the county's initial request for proposals.

The county hired APD Solutions LLC and the Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership Inc. as the primary firms for the NSP. Affordable Housing Community Development was designated as a secondary firm, along with Jewel of the South of Lithonia.

APD Solutions and Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership provided the bulk of the services and split $1.5 million of the grant money toward 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 split the remaining 25 percent of the NSP grant money, or $695,000. The firms worked to rehab 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.

The Rockdale NSP, also referred to as Revitalization of Communities initiative, provides educational sessions on owning a home and down payment assistance to qualified applicants. Those seeking to purchase a house must be able to qualify for a home mortgage.

County officials celebrated the first house closing through the NSP on May 21 and have since sold three more houses. The county had stated it had 15 properties in the program and had eight under contract, according to the county's website.

In press releases announcing the home closings, the county stated "more than 90 percent of the $2.7 million dollars in NSP grant funds have been obligated."

The Rockdale NSP will hold an informational meeting for those interested in purchasing a house through the program at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday at the Fellowship of Jesus Christ Church, located at 1581 Lester Road, Suite C2, Conyers.