AHA chief: Feds question grant reporting, not use of funds
By Stephanie Lulay firstname.lastname@example.org February 1, 2013 4:56PM
Updated: March 4, 2013 6:38AM
AURORA — Questions raised by a federal agency about the Aurora Housing Authority’s use of grant funds dealt with reporting issues, not mismanagement of funds, an AHA official said Friday.
Aurora Housing Authority Executive Director Keith Gregory said the AHA has complied with a federal inspector general’s request to file a response to a 2012 audit report. Gregory said that response was filed in October.
“We have a justification for all of the money that is in question,” Gregory said.
An official of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has recommended the AHA be required to pay almost $350,000 back to the federal government because the Housing Authority did not follow rules of a stimulus grant program. Most of the grant funds were used on capital improvement projects at the Southwind public housing complex.
Gregory said Friday that he agreed that some of the grant rules were not followed by the AHA. Compiling the data requested by the federal auditor in the short amount of time the auditor spent at AHA offices was cumbersome, he said. In some cases, the time lapse between the audit and the expenditure of funds was three years, he said.
The AHA also faced issues tracking down contractors paid with grant funds that had gone out of business or moved around.
The HUD report, in one instance, noted about $2,400 worth of roofing materials were purchased from a Canadian manufacturer instead of an American one, as stipulated by the grant. “Less than one-half of 1 percent was spent on items not (made) in the United States,” Gregory said Friday.
In the 2012 audit report, Kelly Anderson, a HUD regional inspector general, recommended that the Aurora Housing Authority be required to reimburse HUD for $343,000. According to the report, the Housing Authority failed to ensure contractors purchased products manufactured in the United States or that met Energy Star standards; failed to ensure all contractors paid prevailing wages in accordance with the Davis-Bacon Act; and did not accurately document work that was complete before payments were made.
Steve Meiss, director of HUD’s Chicago Office of Public Housing, will have the final say on whether the Housing Authority is required to repay the grant.