Is Christian City liable for $1 million?

Mon, 09/24/2007 - 8:52am
By: Ben Nelms

It may be a simple misunderstanding, but Fulton County Dept. of Housing and Community Development (HCD) has issued a letter to Union City-based Christian City, Inc. informing the organization that its non-compliance over a $1 million “forgivable loan” from federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in 2005 is subject to repayment. The loan, initiated by then-HCD Director Camilla Moore, is one of several being scrutinized by Fulton County and HUD.

A Sept. 14 letter obtained by The Citizen from Fulton County Attorney’s representative Steven Rosenberg to Christian City stated that Fulton County had been notified by HUD that funding provided to Christian City for the “purpose of creating two group homes for children” had been declared to be non-compliant with HUD regulations.

“(HUD) has demanded that Fulton County repay approximately $1 million to its Home Investment Trust Fund due to non-compliance,” Rosenberg said. “I write to advise you that should Fulton County be called upon to reimburse the Home Investment Trust Fund, Fulton County will take all steps necessary to recapture reimbursed funds from Christian City.”

Speaking Friday, Christian City President Bob Crutchfield expressed surprise and confusion over the letter.

“This is the first time were made aware that we were out of compliance,” said Crutchfield. “We have spoken with county officials and will be speaking with them again to clarify this matter.”

At issue according to Rosenberg was the need for Christian City to amend a security deed to bring the project into compliance with HUD regulations. The letter stated that Fulton County had contacted Christian City in that regard but that the non-profit organization had not “been diligent in working with Fulton County to amend the agreement to bring the project into compliance and that no amendment has been made.” Rosenburg gave Christian City 15 days to remedy the situation or be faced with the county exercising any or all available remedies to do so.

Rosenberg said the county is willing to work with Christian City to avoid having the project remain in a non-compliant status and suggested the organization contact county HCD Director Joseph Johnson. Speaking Thursday, Johnson said the HUD funds were considered a forgivable loan provided Christian City complied with the multiple regulations required by HUD.

This appears to be a misunderstanding or a miscommunication over actions taken by the Christian City Board of Directors at it s Aug. 17 meeting, Crutchfield said.

“The board took action at that meeting to make Christian City compliant with the regulations required by HUD and Fulton County,” he said.

Crutchfield said he and Christian City Vice President Phil Kouns will be speaking with Johnson and Fulton county Manager Tom Andrews to clarify the organizations action at its Aug. 17 board meeting.

Aside from the confusion over the issue with Christian City, questions still remain over how and why Christian City was approached to apply for the loan by former HCD Camilla Moore, wife of Union City Mayor Ralph Moore, and where in the county system the required paperwork might be located. Questions also remain on another issue far beyond the apparent mix-up over the funds received by Christian City. Asked if similar past projects during Moore’s tenure were being reviewed by HUD or internally by Fulton County, Johnson said every project prior to June 2006 was being checked.

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