Feds press Tenn. officials to spend taxpayer money as quickly as possible

The federal government insisted Tennessee officials spend $217 million in taxpayer money as quickly as possible as interest free loans for homeowners -- and the state has happily obliged, giving away all but $73 million.

The state plans to pass the rest of the money on before next spring.

As Tennessee Watchdog reported last year, however, homeowners don't necessarily have to pay back those loans, which can range as high as $40,000 per household, per a mandate from the U.S. Treasury Department.

These loans are forgivable after five years, said Patricia Smith, spokeswoman for the Tennessee Housing Development Housing Agency, which awarded the loans on the federal government's behalf.

As of this month, THDA officials have closed 4,482 of those loans and committed 4,803, Smith said.

"We are required to have the funds allocated by the end of 2014 -- but based on our production we expect that the funds will be allocated before the end of the first quarter of 2014."

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