The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

December 6, 2013

Point Township off the hook as Yoder Group to refund HUD $316,000

By Rick Dandes
The Daily Item

— NORTHUMBERLAND — The Yoder Group, of Turbotville, has agreed to a government demand that it repay more than $316,000 to a federal grant program after a botched housing development project in Point Township.

The municipality received $500,000 from the state Department of Economic Development on July 30, 2004, to build a 16-unit housing complex called Kingspointe.

Fourteen units were to be sold to qualified low- and moderate-income buyers in the Home Investment Partnership program.

The project ultimately failed to meet affordability requirements, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said, and Point Township failed to complete a contract with the Yoder Group prior to the expenditure of federal funds.

Because regulations were violated, HUD told DCED the money “must be repaid.”

HUD also wrote that the state agency failed to monitor the project until November 2010, and upon learning that Point Township did not sign a contract with the Yoder Group — in direct violation of the program regulations — DCED failed to take the appropriate action to recapture the federal funds.

Since then, and over the past few months, negotiations between all parties have taken place.

Although details of the negotiations were not made available, The Daily Item obtained a letter from Pennsylvania assistant counsel Joshua Vecchio to Robert P. Yoder Sr. outlining an apparent agreement by Yoder to repay the funds.

“On August 31,” the letter reads, “DCED indicated that it would look to Point Township to reimburse DCED the $381,000 owed HUD, and that Point Township would ultimately look to you to repay Point Township.”

Of the $381,000, approximately $65,000 had already been repaid, leaving about $316,000 yet to be returned to HUD.

Vecchio then asks Yoder in the letter to “Please provide a written signed verification of your intention to repay to DCED the amount of $316,000 on or before Oct. 31.”

Yoder also agreed to indemnify Point Township.

As of Thursday, it was not known whether Yoder has met the deadline of sending that letter of intention to DCED.

Meanwhile, Point Township issued a statement after being asked about the letter by The Daily Item.

“Point Township has continued to engage in a positive dialog with the agencies involved in this matter in order to bring it to a fair and equitable resolution.

“The referenced letter is indicative of the contractual duties that the project developer has with respect to the project and the township, and it is indicative of his intend to fulfill those duties.”