Bridgeport Housing Authority officials tend to cry poverty when issues are raised about conditions of public housing complexes, but federal auditors maintain the authority has mismanaged $895,000 including legal costs, consulting fees, maintenance, improper cash transfers and supporting documents and issuing a “Cadillac” health plan not competitively bid. The report from the Office of Inspector General recommends “HUD’s Hartford Office of Public and Indian Housing require Authority officials to (1) repay more than $895,000 in ineligible costs and support or repay more than $790,000 in costs charged to the Authority’s Federal program.”
The BHA has a five-person board that consists of chairman Dulce Nieves, Democratic political operative Americo Santiago, Rev. Sultan Stack, James Brown and Shante Hanks, director of constituent services for Congressman Jim Himes. Housing Authority Board here. The board recently hired Jim Miller, who had a similar role in New Haven, to lead the authority as executive director, following the resignation of Nick Calace last March. Most of the financial issues in question came during Calace’s time. The BHA is dealing with some hot-button neighborhood issues including the demolition of Marina Village in the South End and the relocation of its residents.
From the report issued last week:
Authority officials did not always ensure that expenses charged to the Authority’s Federal programs were eligible, reasonable, and supported. Specifically, they did not (1) properly charge and support all costs allocated to Federal housing programs, (2) adequately manage maintenance costs, and (3) ensure that employee health care and liability insurance policies were obtained at the most cost-effective price.
These deficiencies occurred because Authority officials improperly implemented asset management procedures and did not provide formal accounting procedures and supervision. As a result, ineligible costs of more than $895,000 were incurred, and more than $790,000 in charges was unsupported.
These improper charges weakened the projects’ financial position and left fewer funds for operations. Also, with diminishing budgets and staffing levels, diverting staff from Federal to non-Federal properties could result in degraded maintenance at the Federal properties.
Read full report here.