Last week, I attended the meeting of the Redevelopment Agency Successor Oversight Board for the City of Santa Clara. I urged the group to reject the California Finance Department’s move to “clawback” $1.25 million from Bill Wilson Center’s Peacock Commons housing project.
This hearing was for the affordable housing projects of the RDA only. We were surprised that our supportive housing project for homeless foster care youth was on the list, because the contract for the rehabilitation of the apartment complex was signed in April 2010—way before Governor Brown even proposed eliminating Redevelopment Agencies in 2011. The first contract for the project was signed in 2007.
No decisions were made at the meeting, but I learned a few things about this process— namely, the City of Santa Clara, the County of Santa Clara, and the State of California all disagree about how EOPs (Enforceable Obligation Payment schedule) and ROPs (Recognized Obligation Payment schedule) will be determined and paid. Apparently, the payment to Bill Wilson Center for our rehab last August was not put on the ROPs by the city last spring. As a result, we were not supposed to be paid, so the state disallowed the payment.
Even though the county admits that Bill Wilson Center is owed the money, their CPAs suggested that we pay money back to the city so that the city can pay it back to the state. Then the city should put our payment on the next ROPs due in February, so that we can be paid next July. Of course, another problem is that the state considers payments only every six months. Am I supposed to wait that long to pay contractors who completed work last summer?
I guess if I follow the logic of all this, I should ask the contractors to pay Bill Wilson Center back the money we paid them, so I can then pay the city to pay the state. Note to CPAs: This is not going to happen!
Of course, we completed the project, filled the apartments within a week and now have a waiting list. I spoke about the success of youth living in the project—and asked that they don’t take $1.25 million back from us.
Other affordable housing providers talked about their projects for seniors and disabled citizens. Near the end, some boardmembers talked about what was reasonable versus what was the “law.” Others talked about voting with their “hearts,” not by trying to interpret poorly written regulations or guidance from the state.
Everyone agreed with one thing: Untangling the RDA dissolution is going to have unintended consequences and cost a lot of money.
Sparky Harlan, Executive Director/CEO at Bill Wilson Center, is a nationally recognized advocate for youth in foster care and in the juvenile justice system, as well as homeless and runaway youth.