NEW ULM - The out-of-whack Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program is slowly but surely curing itself, the New Ulm Economic Development Authority learned Tuesday.
EDA commissioners also learned that after a lengthy staff review, the decision was made not to take over the management responsibilities for the two Garden Terrace apartment buildings because it "isn't worth it," Assistant Executive Director Tom MacAulay said.
For the voucher program, there now is a light at the end of the tunnel, MacAulay said.
With an increase of over $2,200 in HUD's reimbursement payments in 2009 and the reduction in the number of vouchers issued, "we're getting close to zero. Our aim was to get that down to zero," MacAulay said.
Although the number of vouchers issued dropped to 99 in January and February creating a "loss" of $265 in January and $62 in February, "we're going to hold the program to 100 vouchers. That's what our aim is," MacAulay told the commissioners.
The number of vouchers issued monthly during 2008 hit a low of 100 in December, resulting in expenditures exceeding revenue by $1,837. However, HUD's monthly housing assistance payments totaled $20,865 while HAP expenditures totaled $22,702, a negative difference of $1,837.
"The need is out there, and we have hopes to have the voucher program back on its feet soon," MacAulay said.
After studying the situation with the Garden Terraces' resident managers, "we realized that we wouldn't be saving much, if any, by doing it ourselves," MacAulay said.
City Manager Brian Gramentz, EDA's executive director, noted that fitting managers into the city's pay and benefits schedule would be "nearly impossible because we don't have anyone else who does what they do."
The EDA will stick with Lloyd's as the city's Garden Terraces management firm.
The EDA also approved the staff's choice of Paulsen Architects in Mankato to oversee the EDA's 2009-2010 Broadway Haus Apartment Units remodeling project.
Councilor Ken RockVam cast the lone dissenting vote. He sparked some debate by saying that he felt it shouldn't be necessary to hire an architect for these projects when "we have people here in town who know how it should be done, and we can save some money."
On the affordable housing front, MacAulay reported that there is one potential buyer interested in one of the two "spec" homes the EDA owns in Milford Heights First Addition, just off County State Aid Highway 27 west of North Highland Avenue. The Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership owns the other two "spec" homes.
Ron Larsen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org