Letter to the Editor

Stephen Morse of Columbus

Friday, February 22, 2019

To the Editor:

I am expressing my concern about how Commissioner Graves administered the Indiana Housing and Community Development Agency (IHCDA) Blight Elimination Program (BEP).

Below is a letter from IHCDA dated Aug. 17, 2018, about the termination of the county program:

“Mr. Rick Graves

County Commissioner’s Office

Greene County Courthouse

1 East Main Street

Bloomfield, Indiana 47424

Re: Greene County Blight Elimination Program

“Commissioner Graves:

“The County of Greene was awarded funds in the amount of $945,000 to demolish 49 structures in the Blight Elimination Program (BEP). IHCDA has documented Greene County’s progress toward the completion of its BEP Project through the county’s submission of monthly and quarterly progress reports, claims filed, site inspections and the county’s response to program requirements. To date, the county has completed 55 percent of its BEP Project with 27 properties demolished and greened.

“Greene County previously failed to respond to mandatory BEP notice 16-67 and recently failed to respond to mandatory BEP Notice 18-104 regarding Program Milestones. As stated in Notice 18-104, “Any recipient that is required to respond, but fails to do so, will have a portion of their award de-obligated and may have their award terminated.” Greene County also failed to participate in one of the two mandatory procedural calls on either July 23 or July 24 in regards to 2019 BEP extensions. Additionally, the county failed to take any action towards IHCDA’s request to clear out $20,329.79 in pending claims left in ‘claims submission’ status. Lastly, it has been over a year since any demolition-related activity has occurred and over six months since any claims activity has occurred.

“Due to lack of progress and failure to respond and comply with mandatory BEP requirements, IHCDA has elected to revoke the remainder of Greene County’s BEP Award and terminate the county’s participation in the program. Any and all outstanding claims for Greene County’s BEP Project must be submitted through the IHCDA Online Claims portal no later than October 1, 2018, 5 p.m. Eastern time. Any claims submitted after October 1, 2018, including Maintenance claims, will be automatically denied.

“Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the undersigned.

Best regards,

Amber Abrams

BEP Progress & Participation Analyst”

Stephen Morse