VA Pulls Funding for Homeless Veteran Facility, Cites "Minimal Progress"
Published April 11th, 2013
GAINESVILLE - Just when ground was supposed to be broken on the homeless veterans housing complex in Gainesville, the project has suffered a serious setback. After five years and five deadline extensions, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is now planning to revoke its grant of nearly $2 million -- citing a lack of progress.
For years, the Alachua County Housing Authority has been trying to build a transitional housing complex that would assist homeless veterans in Gainesville. The total cost of the project is roughly $3 million, with housing officials raising about $1 million from fundraising. The VA agreed to cover the remaining costs through a $1.9 million grant.
But all that is in serious jeopardy after the VA sent a letter to the housing authority expressing their displeasure with the slow pace of the project, and pulling its grant money as a result.
Officials at the housing authority say the two agencies simply have different definitions of what they consider "progress."
"May 1 has been the deadline for substantial progress, but how do you define substantial progress," said Herbert Hernandez, the current executive director of the Alachua County Housing Authority, and the agency's third director in a year's time. "We define [progress] as 17 building permits and surveys in place, and ready for us to start the construction."
But that apparently wasn't good enough for officials at the VA, who say in the letter that they no longer consider the project to be viable.
The housing authority now has until May 10 to respond to the VA and explain why they still deserve the grant money. If the money is not awarded, Hernandez says the agency will be forced to seek funding from other sources, whether it be fundraising or another grant, just to keep the project moving forward.
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