Control of county housing commission being handed over to third party
STANDISH — The duties of the Arenac County Housing Commission, which serves to make housing acquisition and improvement more affordable to low-income residents of the county, are being handed over to Northeast Michigan Affordable Housing, a nonprofit housing agency.
Michael Snyder, chairman of the Arenac County Board of Commissioners, said that NEMAH will be taking over programs administered by the Housing Commission as well as seeking grant funding from the federal and state governments and other governmental bodies. NEMAH currently serves a similar purpose for ten other counties, as far north as Presque Isle County, and as far south as Ogemaw and Iosco counties.
“They will be acting as a third-party agent for us,” Arenac County Board of Commissioners Chairman Michael Snyder said. “They will be handling the programs we’ve always had, plus new ones.”
He said that the decision to switch to a third-party agent came after Housing Director Jill Eyre moved over to the county equalization department.
The Board of Commissioners voted 4-1 to approve the hiring of NEMAH at its Tuesday, June 7 meeting. Commissioner Joe Sancimino cast the dissenting vote.
“I don’t believe they can do better than the people we had working there or could find to work there,” Sanicimino said. “You’ve made the Housing Commission pretty much irrelevant now.”
He said that the board overseeing the housing commission will remain intact.
“The board will still be in effect, but whether it will have any influence on the housing commission is unclear at this point,” Sancimino said.
Snyder said that he expects the shift to a nonprofit third-party agent to save the county money. He said that NEMAH will be paid by the administrative funds from grants that they apply for and secure on behalf of the county. The only cost to the county, he said, would be the maintenance of an office within the county building, for use by NEMAH once a week.
He added that the county paid off over $40,000 in previous debts incurred by the housing commission.
Sancimino said the debt was paid off using administrative funds accompanying grants secured by the housing commission, which will now be given to NEHMA as payment. He said that the administrative funds are usually around 15 to 20 percent of the grant amount.
“We had enough (money) to run the office and pay off $42,000 in debt from the last year,” Sancimino said.
Snyder said that a potential benefit of NEMAH administering the housing commission is the possibility of more grants, worth larger amounts of money, because the organization covers a much larger area than the county itself.
“The advantage is that they make larger applications for larger amounts for the counties they represent,” Snyder said.
According to Snyder, the Michigan State Housing Development Authority began auditing the housing commission’s current progress Thursday, June 9. He said that once the county receives an audit report, NEMAH can officially take over the duties of the Housing Commission.