Housing deal raises many key questions

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 1, 2013

When it comes to projects that have a significant impact on citizens, even the most positive of business deals raises concerns when handled almost exclusively behind closed doors and with virtually no transparency.

That is exactly the case when it comes to the recent announcement that the Ironton Metropolitan Housing Authority essentially sold the Sherman Thompson Towers senior housing complex to the facility manager, with the city and county governments each pocketing a quarter of a million dollars.

This deal was approved by our elected officials with virtually no open discussion or input and most of the details of the deal haven’t been made public.

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The contention is that the facility management company, LM Associates, was hesitant to make improvements to a facility it didn’t own — a position that certainly makes sense — and that this will pave the way for some positive changes for the complex.

This very well may be true and the seniors living there may be much better for it. The problem is that neither the city nor county officials seemed to know much about the exact terms of the agreement or what it means for the future.

There are lots of unanswered questions: Was the building actually sold? Is the rent expected to stay the same? Are there guarantees on what type of facility it will continue to be? What if LM Associates decided to sell or went bankrupt? Are there guidelines in place?

We have no reason to believe that the company that has been, by most accounts, managing the facility very well for years will change things, but there would be less uncertainty with full disclosure of the agreement.

Although the law doesn’t require these entities to clearly outline the plan, it would certainly ease the minds of those who call the towers home and make the community feel better about it.