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Calexico Redevelopment Agency to hear from housing consultant

March 11, 2002|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — Alexis Gevorgian of Los Angeles is scheduled to appear before the City Council here again to ask the council to give the Calexico Housing Authority $400,000.

The freelance housing consultant has not mentioned in public session what's in it for him if the council gives the authority $400,000.

The council, seated as the city Redevelopment Agency board, meets at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in City Hall.

In addition to entertaining Gevorgian's request, the board will discuss building an aquatic center.

Gevorgian is a freelance consultant who worked with the Housing Authority and Beyond Shelter Housing Corp. in June 2000 when the partners submitted an application to the California Tax Credit Committee in hopes of securing millions in tax credits for construction of affordable senior housing.

The partners received an allocation of $8.3 million in credits in November 2000.

Construction of the Victoria Manor senior housing complex on the corner of Rancho Frontera Avenue and Highway 98 was funded with loans that were taken out with the promise of those credits as collateral.

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On the application sent to the tax credit committee, the Housing Authority pledged $1.2 million toward the project.

The statewide allocation of tax credits is a competitive process. That means other non-profit housing agencies across the state — including a few housing agencies with Imperial Valley ties — were competing against the Calexico Housing Authority and Beyond Shelter Corp. for millions in credits.

By submitting an application with a $1.2 million pledge instead of a lower number, the partners had a better shot at receiving the credits, according to staffers at the Sacramento tax credit committee office.

Before sending in the application with the $1.2 million pledge, the authority administration asked the RDA to contribute $400,000. The council agreed, but made the allocation contingent on the partners getting the tax credits.

In October 2000, the partners had not yet been awarded the tax credits. At an RDA board meeting that same month, the council heard of a disagreement between Beyond Shelter Corp. and one of its competitors. The board took back its promise of $400,000.

Gevorgian was in attendance when it happened. A story in this paper said he "quickly left City Hall's chambers."

At an RDA meeting in October 2001, Gevorgian appeared before the council to argue that it should have never rescinded the $400,000.

City Attorney Michael Rood told him the city had legal grounds to do so. Gevorgian disagreed and said he would be back with proof.

Mayor Victor Carrillo told Gevorgian the authority had more than $1 million in federal funds that was not being used.

At that same meeting, Housing Authority Interim Executive Director Christina Rojas said the authority only had around $800,000 instead of the $1.2 million it had pledged to the tax credit committee.

According to the minutes from that meeting, "Ms. Christina Rojas stated there is money that has not been spent but it is not for this project, it is for other projects."

Rojas has not said whether the authority could take out a loan for the $400,000 it is short.

A number of calls to her office since then have not been returned.

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