Rocky Mount officials have sought to set the record straight over reports of efforts to recover a federally guaranteed loan to a deceased Tarboro senior while a long-term promissory note she signed for a house was still in place.

The town of Rocky Mount did so following a Telegram article published on Sunday about the woman’s son, Marvin Tyson, seeking relief.

Tyson claims his since-deceased mother Estella Tyson-Bell signed the documents for the loan just over a month after her previous home was demolished over a decade ago.

“And to me it’s the proverbial weapon to her head because it doesn’t matter what the promissory note says then, because she has no place to live,” Marvin Tyson told city council. during the public comment phase of the regular board meeting. Monday.

Tyson has asked the council to reconsider and forgo the promissory note for his late mother’s replacement home.

What followed Monday at City Hall were city officials and council members who spent more than half an hour on the subject.

Usually, a promissory note specifies that the signatory agrees to pay a specified amount to a specific person or to the loan holder on a specified date or upon request.

Tyson-Bell received a loan from the HOME program through the Down East Home Consortium. The Down East consortium was formed in the mid-1990s to enable local governments in twin counties to collectively obtain HUD funding to rehabilitate homes.

The Town of Rocky Mount is the lead entity of the Down East consortium and, in turn, is locally responsible for ensuring that HUD regulations are followed. The HOME program provides repayable funds to provide decent and affordable housing to low-income households.

At Monday’s council meeting, City Manager Rochelle Small-Toney said she would ask the city’s interim director of community and business development Peter Varney to come to the speaker’s platform “and explain some of the issues that were misreported in the newspaper and which only to you, but to the general public as well as to the Edgecombe County Commissioners.

But first, Small-Toney made a statement based on what she said was correspondence the city received from HUD in Washington, DC.

Small-Toney said the reason she thought it was important to do this is because “I have to stand up against anyone who challenges the integrity of this administration – and the program funds that we administer to help people. who need decent and affordable housing. “

Small-Toney said Kevin Bush, deputy assistant secretary for grant programs at HUD, told Marvin Tyson in an April 6 correspondence that HUD did not have the authority to require the Down East consortium to do so. forgive the HOME loan to Estella Tyson-Bell.

Small-Toney also said the correspondence made it clear that there was no evidence that the Down East consortium acted inappropriately or misled Tyson-Bell in the execution of the loan.

Small-Toney and Varney also told the board that the loan did not come from the federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, as the Telegram reported on Sunday.

Varney then provided the board with a timeline of what happened in Tyson-Bell’s case.

Varney said Tyson-Bell signed a 20-year promissory note with terms specifying a principal of $ 70,000, secured by a trust deed, and received his replacement home on the site of his old home.

Varney said the specified terms would not be billed or any payments required in the first 10 years. He said the conditions specified that over the next 10 years there would be a 10 percent reduction each year on the principal of $ 70,000, with no balance owed at the end of the 20 years.

Varney said that in December 2009 Tyson-Bell applied to participate in the HOME program and that in July 2010 the property was inspected. It was decided that replacing the house with another would be the most cost effective method of spending the money.

Varney said Tyson-Bell showed various plans for building a new house. In July 2010, she chose a plan and the following month, Edgecombe County opened the submitted bids for the work.

Varney also noted that a relocation assistance agreement had been made so that Tyson-Bell could live elsewhere at no cost while the work was underway.

Varney said Tyson-Bell left his then home in September 2010 and his then home was demolished. She signed the promissory note and the trust deed in October 2010.

Varney told council that during the process there was a problem because the deed was not formatted to be archived by the Edgecombe County Deed Register office, so there had to be a second signature.

Varney said Tyson-Bell moved into the new home in March 2011.

The Telegram in the story published on Sunday quoted Marvin Tyson as saying he learned that the act was never recorded.

Varney told council on Monday that the deed was registered with the Edgecombe County Deed Registry office and provided the date and page numbers.

Estella Tyson-Bell passed away in February 2020 at the age of 80, less than a decade thanks to the HOME loan agreement.

At Monday’s meeting, councilor Reuben Blackwell asked if the transaction with Tyson-Bell in 2010 was unusual.

Varney said no and added that he was not aware of any exceptions or deviations from policies regarding the construction of new homes since the formation of the Down East consortium.

Blackwell also wanted to know the stages of an appeal process by the Tyson family.

Varney said it would take a meeting of the Down East consortium and a request for reconsideration from the consortium.