The US Department of Housing and Urban Development is asking the Mobile Housing Board trying to figure out where did some of its money go?
In a 78 page report, HUD found that the Board failed to follow federal regulations leading to financial mismanagement, and alleges a conflict of interest between a board member and contractor.
The audit went back to 2011. It says the board has received more than $20 million for improvements. However, the number of vacant units only ended going up. Since a submission plan was submitted in that year, the Board increased the vacant unit totals from 1057 in June 2011, to 1194 in October 2015.
After the audit came out, HUD wants a number of things to change. It wants the Board to prove that there was no conflict of interest, or give back $1,241,958 in funds.
The conflict of interest allegation involves a Senior Vice President of the Board and Superior Masonry which was paid over $1.2 million from 2013 to 2015.
It also recommends that the board make changes to clean up its accounting, and records. But tell that to a RV Taylor Home resident who said her complaints have gone nowhere.
“They told me I had to get some bleach and clean the walls it’s ridiculous,” said Romonica Morrissett.
Until now Mayor Sandy Stimpson was hard pressed to advocate for change as the Board operated as a federal agency. Now he can make the case that the board is under serving citizens by not keeping up with repairs to make housing available for those most in need. As of March 2016, there are more than 9,000 families on a waiting list.
“It’s going to take a while to fix this because not only are we dealing with internally with the housing authority but everything you have to do has to be done with HUD approval so just dealing with the bureaucracy will take a while to make things happen,” said Stimpson.
And he’ll begin effecting changes with a new appointee to the board. The Mayor has selected Reid Cummings, who was formerly with the City’s Board of Zoning and Adjustment, and has 32 years of experience in real estate.
Former board member Don Langham resigned June 1st; he was appointed former Mayor Sam Jones. We’ll continue to follow this story and keep you updated.