Tuesday, May 17, 2011

MDHA and its embarrassing mention in a WaPo story on dereliction at HUD

Little wonder that I crack open a Washington Post story--on how the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in Washington has squandered millions on plodding projects and failed to hold accountable local developers and housing authorities--and I find Nashville's Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency (MDHA) mentioned in connection with the dereliction.

MDHA has its own documented dubiosity in recent years, including:

  • allegations in an independent financial analysis that MDHA was either hoarding money, ripping off HUD, or underpaying its own workforce
  • the housing authority allowed a public relations firm to overtax the convention center marketing budget in order to sell the concept to taxpayers
  • hiring a Florida construction company for the new convention center with a record of being "most unproductive" and for generating an "inefficient mess" and an "uncoordinated nightmare"
  • dragging a streetscape out longer than the projected timeline by generally not staying on top of contractors, but entertaining shortcuts, and ignoring community input on lingering problems
  • regular inattentiveness to care and upkeep of Section 8 housing

So, reading that Nashville is among the communities that have black-hole housing developments and authorities that swallow up federal dollars while returning little for the millions concerned prompted no surprise. Here is MDHA's section of the infamous WaPo story:

$1.7 million in funding (2001)

Since 2001, the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency of Nashville invested $1.7 million in this delayed project, meant to provide about 40 homes for low-income families. Federal money was spent to buy land and put in roads and utilities, but there is no money to start construction. "We essentially kind of moth-balled it for the moment," said Joe Cain, director of development. "We are holding it."

It's bad enough that the federal government does not oversee, regulate, or track the money it sends these local agencies, but MDHA is a bad seed and probably should not be the agency HUD relies on to manage its money in Nashville.

1 comment:

  1. If I am correct, Gerald Nicely was an MDHA head for years. And tied closely into big biz contracoters. Isn't his wife tied into something? Isn't he still tied in?