Audit slams city housing program

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An audit of one of Augusta's housing programs funded by the federal government found that the city's controls over the program were inadequate.

The Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development determined that more than $1 million in the city's HOME program involved questioned costs and money the city could lose.

The June 9 audit report recommended that the city prove the money in its HOME program was properly spent or repay $566,697 in questioned costs and lose $477,373 because of program violations.

The money would be repaid from funds that flow to the housing department from the federal government if it is available. If not, the city would be liable.

The audit found that the housing department did not:

- Properly commit $755,284.

- Have proper documentation to support project approvals and address project performance delays.

- Properly maintain and manage program staff.

- Ensure proper documentation of more than $196,657.

Augusta's Housing and Community Development Director Chester Wheeler said the audit findings are preliminary and he would meet with officials in HUD's Atlanta Office of Community Planning and Development before a final report is issued. He said the audit covers the period from 2003 through the first part of 2007, and that he did not become director until April 2007. The audit report states the audit is part of the activities in the fiscal year 2007 annual audit plan.

However, one member of the Housing Department's Citizens Advisory Board, which Mr. Wheeler refused to meet with and succeeded in disbanding after he became director last year, said regardless of what year the monies were allocated, it was Mr. Wheeler's job to make sure the funds were reprogrammed and spent in a timely fashion.

"Nobody in that department should be allowed to pass the buck," said former board member Barbara Gordon. "And it comes as no surprise to me that that department is in trouble again."

The advisory board was appointed by commissioners to provide oversight of the department, Ms. Gordon said.

"We were supposed to be the eyes and ears for the commission," she said. "Chester Wheeler is trying to run everything by himself."

Mr. Wheeler said the inspector general's interpretation of the requirement that the city spend HOME funds within 24 months is not in sync with the Atlanta Office of Community Planning's interpretation.

"I say that because we were audited by the Atlanta office last year, and we received no findings regarding timeliness," he said.

The audit was designed to determine whether the city complied with HOME program requirements for commitments, completion of project activities and eligibility and proof of project costs.

Reach Sylvia Cooper at (706) 823-3228 or sylvia.cooper@augustachronicle.com.

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HYPOCRITES 08
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HYPOCRITES 08 06/19/08 - 04:53 pm
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I have seen them sell Meth in

I have seen them sell Meth in west augusta, columbia county and buckhead. it's everywhere

motivatedinhepzibah
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motivatedinhepzibah 06/19/08 - 04:59 pm
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I told you nightsriders is a

I told you nightsriders is a angry white republican male. He always blames everything on the mexicans, gays, jews, and blacks. Don't even pay that loser any attention. The fake news kool aid is too strong.

niqhtraider
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niqhtraider 06/19/08 - 05:37 pm
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miss moto, I am an

miss moto, I am an independant and I have never said anything about legal hispanics, gays or jews. Now stick that in your [filtered word]!

bone
23
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bone 06/19/08 - 08:25 pm
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i have been reading an

i have been reading an article about section 8 housing in the latest atlantic monthly. frightening stuff. the contention is that across the country section 8 housing tends to raise crime rates in neighborhoods because the former public housing folks tend to congregate together rather than disperse as was originally intended when section 8 was begun in the 70's (bill clinton is noted as the president who was in charge when the section 8 problems began, by the way, as public housing communities were torn down nationwide and section 8 vouchers were handed out to former residents with very little guidance).

niqhtraider
0
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niqhtraider 06/19/08 - 08:54 pm
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Imagine that bone!!! Enough

Imagine that bone!!! Enough to scare the bjesus out of you.

iletuknow
8
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iletuknow 06/20/08 - 12:39 am
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Parasites overseeing

Parasites overseeing parasites. Gotta fail.

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