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Burlington city council holds emergency meeting to clear the books of unspent federal affordable housing funds 

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Burlington’s city council held a brief emergency meeting on Friday in order to attend to a last-minute detail in the year-long process for Burlington to become a regional clearing house for federal affordable housing funds.

During this five-minute meeting, the council formally agreed to return nearly $1.5 million in unspent subsidies to a now-defunct consortium in Greensboro that had previously distributed revenue to Burlington on behalf of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

For many years, this Greensboro-based consortium had been Burlington’s connection to the so-called HOME program – an initiative of Housing and Urban Affairs that provides shelter for low-income individuals. Last year, the city of Burlington chose to sever its ties to this group and began to assemble its own HOME consortium under the guidance of the Piedmont Triad Regional Council, which provides various consulting services to cities and counties in this part of the state.

During the council’s emergency meeting, Michael Blair with the Piedmont Triad Regional Council explained that Friday’s hastily-convened gathering was an unanticipated byproduct of Burlington’s decision to establish its own regional consortium independent of Greensboro.

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“This is all derived from the HOME consortium breakup that occurred in September of 2022,” he elaborated. “On Wednesday morning, I received notice from the HUD representative in North Carolina that we’re going to need to send back all the program revenue we’ve gotten from the Greensboro HOME consortium.”

Blair added that the city was obligated to return these funds before the end of the federal fiscal year on September 30 – hence urgency with which the council needed to meet to deal with this matter.

On Blair’s recommendation, the council voted 3-to-0 to remit the unspent subsidies it had received from the Greensboro consortium – a sum totaling $1,496,341.69. The council also pledged to give back any additional revenue it may get in the future thanks to its former relationship with that consortium.

Taking part in this vote was a bare quorum of the city council that consisted of mayor Jim Butler, mayor pro tem Harold Owen, and councilman Bob Ward. Councilmembers Kathy Hykes and Ronnie Wall were both absent from the emergency meeting.

Blair assured The Alamance News that, with the remittance of this revenue, the stage is now set for Burlington to serve as the lead agency for its own regional consortium. He added that this organization will ultimately distribute funds for affordable housing to local governments in Alamance, Caswell, Davidson, Randolph, and Rockingham counties.

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