Property manager steals $431,000 of taxpayer dollars, impacts Augusta tenants

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Update (WJBF)– We now have more information from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for the tenants at the Renaissance Village Apartments managed by Augusta Properties LTD.

A spokesperson from the HUD office in Atlanta sent us the following information.

Tenants will be protected. While I don’t have a  date to provide you today as several aspects are being coordinated, I can tell you they will receive details of the process shortly. They will receive official notification from HUD; it will include a date for a meeting to explain the relocation process and the assistance that will be provided, as well as next steps and documentation needed to receive their housing vouchers.

When the meeting takes place, tenants will meet the relocation contractors and representatives from the housing authority that will  administer their vouchers. They will have plenty of opportunity to ask questions.

Then they will also have one-on-one  meetings with the relocation specialists to understand their situation and help them find housing that meets their individual needs.

-HUD Spokesperson

Augusta, GA (WJBF)– An Augusta property manager in prison for stealing tax payer money.

In April, a Federal judge sentenced Ohio man Gregory Darr to 30 months in prison for embezzling $431,000 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (known as HUD).

Before Darr was sent to a Federal prison in Kentucky, he managed properties in Ohio and Georgia. He has at least 3 properties in Augusta– one on the corner of Wrightsboro Rd. and Baker Ave, another on Broad St. next-door to the Kroc Center and one more on the corner of Broad St. and 3rd St. in Olde Town.

A tenant who lives in one of Darr’s Augusta apartments reached out to NewsChannel 6 for help. Now that Darr is in prison, he wants to know what this means for him and dozens of others like him. He did not know where else to turn so he called NewsChannel 6 and we got to work to get him some answers.

Within just a few hours of us making calls, tenants got a notice posted outside their homes. The letter read:

Letter Augusta Properties, LTD gave to tenants on August 1, 2019

“It has come to the attention of the office that some misleading information is being said about your future residency. This letter is to set the record straight.

1. Yes, these apartments will eventually close. Eventually! Not this week or next week or even the end of the month.”

Augusta Properties, LTD

None of the properties fall under the Augusta Housing Authorities’ umbrella. However, last month Deputy Executive Director Douglas Freeman got an unusual call from HUD.

“The issue was the loan that was guaranteed by HUD was looking like it was going to be foreclosed on because it was delinquent so they were asking if there was any assistance that we could provide for the existing tenants moving forward to make sure that anybody who qualified for assistance continued to receive assistance,” Freeman explained.

The Augusta Housing Authority is working with HUD to get housing vouchers for the tenants, but there is a chance that not all will qualify to receive financial help for rent like they currently do.

“According to our latest count, it was about 85 occupied units. I think the total unit count is more than that, but they weren’t fully occupied,” Freeman points out. “On average for most of the section 8 program, it’s 2-3 people. There will be some with 1, some with 4, but somewhere in that average.”

Based on those numbers, 85 units with an average of 2-3 people in each, the future living situation for roughly 170 to 255 people in Augusta is uncertain.

“Both the Augusta Housing Authority and HUD are working as quickly as we can to come to a resolution to make sure that we can assist these families and make this transition as smooth as possible for them,” Freeman says.

We continue to learn more about this situation and will share information with you as we get it.

In the meantime, if you live in one of these apartment complexes please let us know so we can try to help you!

Please fill out your information below.

Photojournalist: Gary Hipps

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