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Lupita Rios says she did not ‘lie'

March 03, 2002|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — Lupita Rios, former executive director of the Calexico Housing Authority, said her administration did not "lie" when it submitted a tax credit application to the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee in 2000.

Recent stories in this newspaper detailed the controversy surrounding that application.

"The story, the way it read, led the reader to believe that I lied, which is totally incorrect," said Rios, who is running for City Council.

After the city's Redevelopment Agency agreed to loan the Calexico Housing Authority $400,000 toward a tax credit application in June 2000, the authority sent an application to the tax credit committee pledging $1.2 million would be loaned to developers to build low-income apartments for seniors.

The RDA board included a caveat in its agreement.

According to the caveat, the city would not be legally bound to loan the money if the partnership of the authority and Beyond Shelter Housing Corp. of Los Angeles did not receive millions in tax credits, according to City Attorney Michael Rood.

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In October 2000, the city rescinded the loan. In November that year the partners were allocated millions of dollars in tax credits.

In a few months the senior complex off Rancho Frontera Avenue, called Victoria Manor, will be complete. Its construction was funded by loans contingent on the partners receiving millions in tax credits.

When the complex is complete, the partners will have to send the tax credit committee detailed financial records accounting for each source of funding used to fund its construction.

Rios said Friday, "Regardless of the funding source, the Housing Authority is committed to provide $1.2 million."

Recently, Rios' successor, Christina Rojas, came before the City Council to say the authority does not have $1.2 million to provide. Rojas said the authority has around $800,000 it could allocate.

Rios say her administration did not lie on the application because, "The Housing Authority had commitments for the funding at the time the application was submitted to HUD."

While the commitment from the city fell through before the partners were allocated tax credits, Rios said it shouldn't matter because, "The disclosure of the funding source is not a requirement."

Rios said the current administration will have to figure out how to fulfill the $1.2 million pledge.

Rios was asked if the authority could take out a loan to cover the $400,000 it is short. She responded, "That's something you're going to have to ask the current administration."

Rojas did not return a phone call for comment.

Regarding the recent criticism of her tenure as executive director, Rios released this statement: "Through the years of my administration the Housing Authority provided an excellent service to its community. The proof is: the physical aspects of the development in addition to the scores the housing authority received from HUD above 90 percent; for a couple of years we received a 100 percent score.

"In addition to that, the Housing Authority through the years had clean audits; demonstrating that not only the financial aspects of the administration were efficient but also the auditors reviewed the Housing Authority's compliance with HUD guidelines and regulations.

"In reference to the assessment performed by the organization (auditors Mitchell and Titus of New York) it is clear that most of the blame for the Housing Authority's problems were placed on its current board of commissioners and the City Council's lack of monitoring and enforcement of their appointees' actions.

"This report reflects administrative issues that must be addressed. However, in no time was their any indication that because of those issues, sanctions or money would be taken away from the agency. But it did reflect that the existing board of commissioners were inefficient and that they were a hindrance to the administration.

"At no time did HUD declare the Calexico Housing Authority a troubled agency. Even as of the last review, June 2001, the Housing Authority received a score of 90 percent."

>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or claverie7@hotmail.com

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