Council re-thinks HOME Consortium

The Sunnyside City Council is having second thoughts about participating in a regional consortium that would provide funds for affordable housing.

Known as the HOME Consortium, the federal program would provide Sunnyside with $160,579 to provide housing for low to moderate income families.

Council originally approved joining the consortium back in May with the understanding the Yakima Valley Conference of Governments (YVCOG) would be the lead agency and handle the administrative responsibilities.

Former City Manager Eric Swansen advised council at the time not to participate in the consortium, noting there could be administrative costs the city would have to absorb in the future.

Council may end up agreeing with Swansen after all, as last night, Monday, it learned the federal government has changed the HOME rules so that YVCOG can no longer administer the program. The administrative burden could then fall on the consortium's individual cities.

Mayor pro tem Jim Restucci told council that Toppenish is looking to pull out of the consortium.

"Unless COG can handle the administrative side of this they (Toppenish) don't want anything to do with this," said Restucci.

Other cities in the HOME group include Union Gap, Wapato, Grandview and Sunnyside.

Zillah and Moxee opted out of the program from the get-go.

The HOME program came up last night because there was an addendum for each of the consortium partners to consider.

Council did not take action last night as it considers the next step in what to do with the program.

The concern is that if council says yes and moves forward with the consortium, then it is committed for three years and cannot back out, even if the city has to bear more administrative costs.

Restucci added, "I had no problem supporting this provided that COG was going to be able handle the administrative side."

Councilwoman Theresa Hancock joined council in taking a wait and see approach to involvement with the HOME program.

"I'd like to see some more information on this before making a decision," she said. Hancock suggested talking with Grandview City Administrator Scott Staples to see what that city is going to do.


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