The UCDD Executive Board has given Executive Director Mark Farley the go ahead to seek more information on a USDA housing project in Cumberland County.
Farley said USDA has approached the district with a site development program that could bring up to 160 affordable homes.
“What they have asked us to consider doing is develop the sites, work with the contractor to build homes,” Farley said. “In other words, we would get the sites ready for the subdivision, and the contractor would come in, and we would sell him five sites or 10 sites. Then, they would take it build the homes.”
Farley said the some $3.5 million project would create single family residences that costs less than $180,000. Cumberland County Mayor Allen Foster said there is a need in his county for the housing.
“I think they would sell as long as you provide them to people that need them,” Foster said.
Farley said under the program, UCDD would take a loan to purchase land and develop the lots. Farley said the loan would be paid back as properties are sold to contractors. Farley said UCDD would have five years to repay.
Putnam County Mayor Randy Porter asked Farley what financial risks would be included with the loan. Farley said UCDD would be borrowing money at a very low interest rate.
“We would be borrowing the money,” Farley said. “So, we would be on the hook from that stand point. So, I think the property that we are talking about up there is like $1.5 million. We would be on the hook for that. Obviously if something were to go bad, we could sell that off and hopefully recover, but there would be a little risk.”
Farley said once the lots are sold, the development district would not be responsible for construction. Farley said the next step is to gather more information from the interested Cumberland County contractor.
“We would treat them like we treat one of our loan customers,” Farley said. “They would have to give us all their financial report information. We would delve into what the actual contract looks like with USDA.”
Farley said he would have more information on the program for the committee’s December meeting.
In other business, UCDD is 1 of 80 entities competing to be a part of a new state program. The development district has applied for a $500,000 planning grant. Farley said if awarded, the development district would be eligible to apply for a 3-year, $25 million grant.
The state funding is a part of the pilot initiative, Temporary Assistance For Needy Families Opportunity Act. Farley said the goal is to address the needs of vulnerable families.