Mayor Says He Won't Sign $500,000 Agreement With HUD
Saturday, October 27, 2012 • 3:28pm
PATERSON, NJ – The City Council last week approved an agreement with federal housing officials to provider Paterson with $500,000 in technical assistance for its Community Development department, but Mayor Jeffrey Jones said he would not sign off on the deal.
The mayor said the council was premature in voting on the agreement because as far as he’s concerned negotiations are still going on between his administration and the United State Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
In particular, Jones said he was not willing to drop his bid to have the section 8 housing subsidy program transferred back to city government from the Paterson Housing Authority. Jones said that’s one of HUD’s requirements under the agreement.
Jones said HUD circumvented his administration by reaching out directly to City Council President Anthony Davis to get the council to vote on the deal. That move, the mayor said, flouted state law that authorizes the executive branch to negotiate such agreements.
“It’s insulting,’’ Jones said of HUD’s direct talks with the council.
But council members said Paterson badly needs HUD’s intervention to prevent the city from losing any more federal housing money. In the past couple of years, HUD has taken back several million dollars in housing grants because the city did not use the money in timely fashion.
On October 23, Davis has the resolution approved the HUD agreement added to the council’s agenda during the meeting. “I want to make sure that this is not held up anymore,” Davis said. “We have lost money. Whether it’s the previous administration or the current administration, we don’t need to send money back.’’
Councilman Kenneth Morris said HUD review could bring new leadership to the Community Development department. “Those that cannot contribute something, you invite them to find something else to do,’’ said Morris, who has been outspoken in his criticism of Paterson’s Community Development Director Lanisha Makle.
PatersonPress.com has requested a copy of the proposed from the city, but has not yet received it.
When asked whether HUD would require changes in the management of the city’s Community Development department, HUD officials would not give a direct answer, saying only that the technical assistance would strengthen the city’s ability to administer federal housing funds.
The agreement includes a space for the mayor’s signature. If Jones doesn’t sign, it’s not clear whether the agreement would go forward.
Jones has said that his administration has taken the blame for mistakes made by his predecessor’s staff. Indeed, all the money that’s been lost had come to Paterson for proposals made while Jose “Joey” Torres was mayor
Jones also asserted that HUD shares the blame for the city’s loss of funding because the agency did not properly monitor the operation of the Community Development department under Torres. Jones said HUD was “overmanaging now to overcompensate for the mistakes of the past.’’