ARA gives shelter a loan extension

ARA gives shelter a loan extension

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Managers of an Albany homeless shelter were granted an extension on a loan from the Albany Revitalization Area on Wednesday but did not escape discussion surrounding the operation of the shelter or the possibility that the city could explore other avenues regarding its maintenance. 

George Matland and Gale Meehan requested that the board waive the $27,000 December 2019 payment on a $100,000 loan in exchange for an interest-only payment of $2,175 and renegotiate the payment schedule on the loan's remaining balance. 

They were granted the loan in 2017 to complete a $150,000 project at the new Signs of Victory shelter location at Jackson Street and 11th Avenue. According to city staff, the original loan was guaranteed by a promissory note. A quitclaim deed was also issued for the property that housed the existing shelter on Seventh Street to ensure it was vacated and properly protected against re-entry.

In July of that year, a separate promissory note and loan modification were signed with an additional $30,000 in funding. 

That funding was revoked in February 2018 in lieu of collecting the first $20,000 payment on the loan that was past due as of December 2017. 

On Wednesday, Councilor Mike Sykes expressed concern that altering the loan agreement would be putting the pair in a worse financial situation and asked Matland if he was current on his other bills. Matland assured the board that the ARA loan was the only outstanding bill. 

"Christmas tree season was bad this year," he said, noting poor tree quality. "We ended up giving a lot away at the end." 

Under the new agreement, Matland and Meehan are responsible for the interest-only payment of $2,175 and their principal payment was extended for one year.

Matland told the board that the future payment was expected to be paid with funds from Christmas tree sales and that the he and Meehan were in search of a new supplier. 

Councilor Rich Kellum said he was concerned with the pair's history and asked that a plan be worked out concerning code compliance issues at the property as well as a payment schedule. He suggested that the city may have to work with someone else to maintain the shelter. 

Mayor Sharon Konopa noted that the shelter was a needed service and that the board should continue to work with Matland and Meehan.

Councilor Alex Johnson II made a motion to approve staff's recommendation of altering the loan agreement. 

"So we have nothing to say until the end of the year," Kellum said of the board approval. "I do not have a good feeling about that." 

However, code compliance issues can be taken up at any time by the city council, according to staff, and are not reliant on the organization's loan agreement.

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