Tribal Council clears way to chase housing dollars

By Bob Shiles -

Al Locklear

Anita Hammonds Blanks

PEMBROKE — A resolution authorizing tribal leaders to apply for up to $6 million in federal funding to pay for construction of low-income housing was approved Thursday by the Lumbee Tribal Council during a special meeting.

The council also passed a budget amendment that will provide for part-time youth coordinators and programs for tribal Boys & Girls clubs, provide money for new construction and pay for tribal finance employees to attend work-related training in Atlanta.

The emergency meeting, which followed a meeting of the tribe’s seven-member Finance Committee, was called after Tribal Chairman Harvey Godwin Jr. chastised council members for not approving the resolution and budget amendment during their regular meeting on Wednesday. The chairman said failure to act on the amendment and resolution would stall programs and projects that would benefit tribal members.

The resolution allows the tribe to apply for U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Title VI grant money for the construction of 50 homes in the Raynham, Union Chapel and Prospect areas. Another 50 homes would be built in Lumberton later using tax credits, Finance Committee Vice Chairman Al Locklear said.

Administrators and council members wanted the resolution passed Thursday because of a May 1 deadline for applying for Title VI funds. The funds are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

After a lengthy discussion, the council and Tammy Maynor, the tribe’s director of governmental affairs, agreed that the grant money should be used to construct single-family homes to be rented as well as apartments and duplexes.

“This administration is open for a combination of housing,” Maynor said. “This could be a mixed community.”

Locklear raised the question of whether or not it was financially viable for single-family homes to be built for the purpose of rental property. He suggested that apartments and other types of group housing be considered.

“Why build a brand new house for someone to rent? Who does that?” Locklear said. “You never get your money out of it. You are always paying just to maintain it.”

The approved resolution allowing the pursuit of Title VI funds specified the loan could not be for more than $6 million. It also mandated the interest rate could not exceed 5.75 percent, and the length of the loan can’t exceed 20 years.

Locklear said it might be possible to arrange a rent-to-own agreement with individual renters. To be eligible to rent any of the housing units an individual will have to be low income and be an enrolled member of the Lumbee Tribe.

All 15 members of the 21-member tribal council present at Thursday’s meeting voted in favor of the resolution. All 15 council members also voted in favor of the proposed budget amendment.

Anita Hammonds Blanks, chairman of the Finance Committee, said the amendment added to the budget $22,000 from the sale of property. Of this total, $19,242 will be used for new construction. The remaining $3,000 will be used to send finance employees to Atlanta to be trained on new computer software.

The amendment also shuffled funds between line items to provide part-time youth coordinators for the Boys & Girls clubs. The $30,000 was drawn from funds available for two positions that have not been filled, Hammonds Blanks said.

The new Sacred Hoop Grant, which provides funding for such things as a “talking circle” aimed at providing cultural education to young people, also was included in the budget amendment. Hammonds Blanks said $8,000 of the $16,000 grant will be used in this year and $8,000 next year.

Al Locklear Locklear

Anita Hammonds Blanks Hammonds Blanks

By Bob Shiles

Bob Shiles can be reached at 910-416-5165.

Bob Shiles can be reached at 910-416-5165.

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