Guam – Former GHURA Executive Director Marcel Camacho has sent out a news release that continues to call into question the GHURA boards handling of the 2012 Low Income Housing Tax Credits. Yesterday Camacho resigned and in his letter he made reference to certain irregularities with the tax credit program that he said would all be made clear in the end. However, GHURA board Chairman Dave Sablan says all of these allegations that Camacho is making could back fire.
In former GHURA Executive Director Marcel Camacho’s resignation letter he drew attention to what he called “irregularities” with the awarding of Low Income Housing Tax Credits or LIHTC to the two lowest ranked companies namely Great Homes and Tower 70. Great Homes is owned by Catholic Social Services, Jones & Guerrero and the Calvo Finance Corporation. Tower 70 is owned by Robert Salas and Keith Farrel. Yesterday GHURA board chairman Dave Sablan defended the actions and decisions of the board. Today Camacho released a follow up letter in response to Sablan’s comments. In this letter Camacho essentially says that he is supposed to have sole authority to accept or reject applications for these tax credits but the board took it upon themselves to award the credits to Great Homes a company he believed did not qualify for the award.
Camacho writes that after he rejected the first three ranked companies namely Medallion, Ironwood Highlands, and Lada Senior Housing for a lack of site control the board directed him to begin negotiations with fourth ranked Great Homes. However, Camacho indicates that he couldn’t reach an agreement with Great Homes because “they had offered an affordable unit at $560,000 each when others were offering their units at less than $240,000 each.” He goes on to say that Great Homes was eventually willing to lower their price per unit to $390,000 each but this price was “still out of range”. Camacho also states that there were other deficiencies with the application from Great Homes that were “pointed out by an expert from the mainland that was retained by legal counsel to advise on LIHTC matters.”
Ultimately Camacho writes that he did not recommend to give the tax credits to Great Homes but the board “made a decision to award Great Homes a LIHTC that was more than what they originally requested….” Camacho also writes that he never signed off on the awarding of tax credits “since they made the decisions against my better judgement” Camacho ends his letter saying that he stands by his decisions “even if it meant me having to resign.”
“He keeps bringing these other things up and frankly it’s putting the spotlight back on him as far as I’m concerned if he wants to continue along this track he will eventually get himself in hot water in my opinion,” said GHURA Board Chairman Dave Sablan. Although he can’t divulge any details, Sablan says the board placed Camacho on administrative leave because of some questionable things he’d done at GHURA. “That’s why we put him on administrative leave we needed to conduct an investigation free of him interfering with anything that was going on with GHURA and we came up with a long laundry list of things and we were prepared to discuss that in executive session with him yesterday and he chose to resign instead,” said Sablan.
The GHURA board chairman says that it was Camacho who improperly conducted negotiations with Great Homes and Tower 70 and the board eventually had to step in and take over. Camacho wanted to disqualify Great Homes but the board felt they had a good application. “Well his recommendation was to remove them to disqualify them and well what his reason was is they didn’t have a good plan well how can you tell me that they didn’t have a good plan when they’re offering to give us 81 homes it just doesn’t make sense his reasoning didn’t hold any water with the board as far as we’re concerned that’s why we said alright step aside let me hear it from Great Homes themselves which we did,” said Sablan.
Yesterday Camacho mentioned in his letter that the proper authorities had been notified of the irregularities in the handling of these tax credits. Sablan on the other hand says it is Camacho who mishandled the program. “He was manipulating the negotiations based on this sole authority that was given to him in the QAP, sole authority to negotiate not necessarily to decide however way you want based on his own personal feelings so there was some improprieties in that regard and irregularities and if anything it’s with him and not with us,” said Sablan.
PNC asked Sablan if he had been contacted by any authorities with regards to the LIHTC program. “No not personally so I don’t know of anybody in GHURA that has been contacted if they are we are not worried we are as transparent as you wanna be in fact everything that we did on the Low Income Housing Tax Credit is minuted there’s board minutes that we have they can certainly look at that and see how we worked it out we had the general public in the room at the time they can attest to how the board deliberated on that, Marcel Camacho was there he was sitting down there and we went through the whole process he could’ve raised his hand to make a comment that for the record I don’t agree with it or say something to that effect he never did,” said Sablan.
This awarding of 2012 tax credits to Great Homes and Tower 70 has been under protest by the top ranked Medallion group. Medallion filed a protest with both GHURA and the Office of Public Accountability. Medallion asserts that they were improperly disqualified for lack of site control because they do have site control in the form of an executed land agreement.