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Cromwell Hills is a public housing site under the Chattanooga Housing Authority.

Chattanooga Housing Authority board members listened quietly Tuesday as Housing Choice voucher property owner Jerald Peterson listed his concerns and suggested changes to the program.

Peterson said landlords take a greater risk than tenants in the business arrangement, because landlords risk destruction of their property. Yet many policies do not work in the landlords' favor, he said.

Peterson was the only speaker during a public hearing for the housing authority's 2017 Annual Agency Plan and Five Year Agency Plan for 2017-2021.

Plans include a revised public housing admission and continued occupancy policy, changes to low-income public housing leases, revisions to the Housing Choice voucher administrative plan and capital budget concerns.

The 2017 Annual Agency Plan suggests that all future senior high-rise apartment tenant applicants must be at least 62 years old. Housing officials now accept applicants as young as 50. The plan also states that Cromwell Hills will become an Upward Mobility program site, which would require residents who live there to work or attend school for at least 30 hours a week.

The room was full of public housing residents and staff, but no one other than Peterson came to the podium when authority board chairman Eddie Holmes opened the floor for comments.

When tenants get proper notice to move, housing authority employees tell them they don't have to move until their landlord actually takes them to court and has the judge issue an eviction, Peterson said.

"I question, why would [the authority employees] do that?" he said. "To me, it's an ethical question, and they shouldn't be doing that."

Board chairman Eddie Holmes said executive director Betsy McCright would respond to his comments later.

Holmes explained that oral comments will be summarized and sent along with written comments and the plan to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to meet an Oct. 16 deadline.

Then Holmes adjourned the public hearing and went into the housing authority's monthly board meeting.

With two thirds of the year under the housing authority's belt, housing authority chief financial officer Philippe Lindsay reported that the agency has had a "fairly decent year financially" with about $700,000 in income for all programs through Aug. 31, which is about $375,000 ahead of plan for the budget, he said.

"We're hoping that that will continue through the remainder of the year," he said.

He told board members he would have the 2017 budget available in October.

Board members approved his resolution to write off $58,177.09 in public housing tenant accounts and $2,314.15 in Greenwood Terrace tax credit accounts for the quarter ending Friday.

Most of the money written off is for fraud and unpaid rent, Lindsay said.

He said the write-off amount is lower than usual and that the housing authority still could recoup some payments if the residents who owe the money apply to live in public housing again.

Then the board approved the 2017 Agency Plan and Five Year Agency Plan for 2017-2021.

Housing Choice voucher program director Tammie Carpenter announced that Housing Choice voucher program payment standards for most ZIP codes remain the same for the 2016/2017 year. However, payment standards for some properties in the 37308, 37353, 37402 and 37410 ZIP codes may see a slight reduction in payment for some housing units according to the number of bedrooms.

The board also authorized the housing authority to enter into a master developer agreement with Pennrose Properties LLC to expand affordable housing in Chattanooga. The agreement has an option to extend it for multiple phases for a period of five years from the date, Feb. 16, that the initial letter of agreement was signed.

Housing authority Vice President of Development Naveed Minhas commended board member Jim Sattler for helping the authority negotiate a "favorable development fee" for the renovation of Cromwell Apartments and the 50 new units expected to be built on the site.

Housing officials plan to meet with residents at College Hill Courts and Cromwell Apartments on Oct. 4 and Oct. 10 to discuss plans for potential development. McCright said they will also meet with residents at East Lake Courts to tell them they still have no plans for that site.

Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at yputman@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6431.

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