WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — According to CEO, Tyrone Garrett, the Wilmington Housing Authority will begin calling the 150 families displaced by mold today, informing them their per diem payments will be cut in half.
“And that’s because we want to be able to maintain it as long as we possibly can,” said Garrett. “And at the rate that we were going, we wouldn’t be able to sustain it for much longer.”
This will effect food and transportation costs, not hotel costs. According to Garrett, hotel costs will still be fully taken on by the WHA and their fund sources.
Garrett says average displaced family of five receives $1,300 each week in per diem just to cover food and transportation.
“There is a uniform relocation act which we follow,” Garrett continued, “which talks about what we are responsible for and have to do. I think someone looked at a different set of numbers and dollar amounts and utilized the wrong concept.”
Garrett says initially, they were using federal funds to cover per diem. But those are considered capital funds, and can’t be used that way.
“Capital dollars have to go into actual capital needs. Actual remediation work or construction work. They can’t be used for soft costs. So the soft costs, such as per diem were being driven and carried by the Housing Authority’s actual budget. Operating budget.”
Garrett says the operating budget covers necessary expenses like contractors, maintenance to units, and utilities. He says left unchecked, per diem would continue to eat into the budget until the Housing Authority could no longer cover these costs.
“We basically to some extent hired 150 employees on a budget for 50,” he explained. “I think it’s better to reduce it and continue it for a period of time versus cutting it out all together because you don’t have the funding in place.”
Calls to inform families began Tuesday.