It’s been fewer than six months since the Chattanooga Housing Authority owed about $800,000 with only $55,000 in the bank.
“We started out May 1 behind the eight ball,” John Coxwell, the authority’s acting chief financial officer, said Wednesday at the organization’s monthly board meeting.
By Aug. 31, the housing agency was current with day-to-day bills and had accumulated $312,000 in the bank, he said.
“CHA has paid every outstanding invoice available,” Mr. Coxwell said.
Housing officials still must deal with CHA’s $4.5 million budget shortfall, but it has its daily expenses in line with its revenue, officials said. Some of the money from having day-to-day cash could go toward paying off the debts, said Bill Lord, CHA’s chief information officer.
Betsy McCright, the housing authority’s interim executive director, smiled as she and other board members looked over the financial report.
“Good financial reporting is essential to all well-managed organizations,” Mrs. McCright said. “I am very proud of the great work our accounting department has done to provide us timely and accurate financial information in the past several months.”
Mr. Coxwell attributed part of the housing agency’s financial improvement to its personnel reductions and cuts in contracts earlier this year. The agency’s staff was reduced from 206 to 142 employees.
* $800,000 — Accounts payable on May 1
* $55,000 — Cash CHA had in the bank on May 1
* $312,000 — CHA’s current available cash
Source: Chattanooga Housing Authority
The housing authority also received “an extraordinary” advance of cash through Aug. 31 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Mr. Coxwell said. The advance — about $280,000 — is on fees that the housing authority earned on its HOPE VI project, he said. HUD is allowing the housing agency to use the money for its low-income public housing fund and pay it back with no interest, officials said.
The housing authority is allowed to repay the money when it can. There is no immediate deadline, Mr. Lord said.
The housing authority also received its capital fund grant, Mr. Coxwell said, and 20 percent, or $845,070, of the grant can be used for operating expenses.
But the agency isn’t out of the woods. Cash is tight, and the $312,000 is all the cash that CHA has on hand, Mr. Coxwell said. However, expenses seem to be stabilizing, he said.
Instead of being late in paying bills, CHA has been paying invoices on time or slightly ahead of schedule since Aug. 31, he said.
“We’re not getting calls from vendors,” Mr. Coxwell said as several CHA staff and board members laughed.
Eddie Holmes, chairman of the housing authority’s board of directors, commended the accounting staff.
“I truly understand the pressure that you’re under. I appreciate the many long hours that you’ve put in,” he said. “It’s truly a new day for us.”
Yolanda Putman has been a reporter at the Times Free Press for 11 years. She covers housing and previously covered education and crime. Yolanda is a Chattanooga native who has a master’s degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Alabama State University. She previously worked at the Lima (Ohio) News. She enjoys running, reading and writing and is the mother of one son, Tyreese. She has also ...