CAHI closes offices

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal Former Citizens for Affordable Housing staff members Eric Machado, left, and Nick Tolotti arrange their new office Thursday afternoon in Carson City. Nevada Rural Housing Authority has applied to administer the program.

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal Former Citizens for Affordable Housing staff members Eric Machado, left, and Nick Tolotti arrange their new office Thursday afternoon in Carson City. Nevada Rural Housing Authority has applied to administer the program.

Nevada Rural Housing Authority to supervise construction of last nine Dayton homes

By Karen Woodmansee

Appeal Staff Writer

A drop in its financial fortunes has forced Citizens for Affordable Homes Inc. to close its offices and transfer supervision of its program to another agency.

However, CAHI interim executive director Perry Comeaux said the changes don't mean the end of CAHI forever.

"We are getting ready to move, but we definitely still exist," he said. "Some of our activities that we have formerly handled are going to be handled by the Nevada Rural Housing Authority, which will administer the program at least until the last nine houses are built.

CAHI, a nonprofit organization, helped low-income clients build their own homes in the Gold Country Estates subdivision in Dayton.

Comeaux said he was not certain what will happen to CAHI.

He said the group was moving equipment to storage in Dayton and a decision has not yet been made by the board of directors on where the organization will go.

He said the organization's financial fortunes have dropped since November, when the board fired former CEO Ron Trunk. Comeaux wouldn't comment on Trunk's departure or what effect Trunk might have had on the organization's financial problems.

The house at 100 Pine Cone Road in Dayton where CAHI formerly had its offices is being used for some storage, and Comeaux expected it to be sold eventually.

He said that after today, CAHI would have no more employees.

The few that are left at the organization will now be employees of Nevada Rural Housing Authority, a quasi-state government agency that administers affordable housing programs in the rural counties, said Gary Longaker, executive director of NRHA.

Longaker confirmed his organization would oversee the building of the final nine homes in Gold Country Estates and, he hopes, continue the self-help program for the long term.

"Our first focus is to finish the nine homes, but it's also our intent to become the designee or administrator," he said. "This is a program that provides a real benefit to the state."

Longaker said an application to become the administrator of the CAHI program was submitted last week to the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development, which provided financing to those who build their own homes through the CAHI program. A final decision by the Washington, D.C., office will be made in April or May, he said.

"Hopefully they will then approve Nevada Rural Housing as the viable self-help developer so that the program can continue," said USDA Rural Development state director Larry Smith.

USDA Rural Development provides technical assistance and grant funding for the construction, and once the homes are completed, the owners obtain a USDA mortgage based on the appraised value of the home, he said.

Longaker said he hoped there is no impact to CAHI clients.

"We are working like screaming dervishes," he said. "We hope this will be a seamless transition."

NRHA has also taken over CAHI's weatherization program for low-income residents, who aren't required to have CAHI homes to participate, he said.

• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at kwoodmansee@nevadaappeal.com or 882-7351.

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