HUD to perform review of Hattiesburg entitlement programs

A request by the City of Hattiesburg for a full review from the Department of Housing and Urban Development has been granted. (Photo source: WDAM)

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) –

A request by the City of Hattiesburg for a full review from the Department of Housing and Urban Development has been granted.

After a brief inspection request last September, nine findings and two concerns were found involving overall management of the HOME Investment Partnership program and financial management of the Community Development Block Grant program.

“Well in September, after a very narrow focused monitoring visit, we received some notifications of some deficiencies in our program,” said Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker. “Because that was just a narrow-focused visit, we wanted a comprehensive look at where we were, both in compliance and how we were implementing these programs.”

Barker said they wrote a letter to the HUD Office of Inspector General in the fall asking for a full review.

“They’ve responded favorably, they’re going to make that visit, we’re going to meet February 13th,” said Barker.

“We’re looking for a complete review of everything that we’re doing right now in some of our HUD programs,” he said. “We look forward just to getting some answers on where we are, where the program stands, a full review on where we can improve and what needs to happen going forward.”

The survey/inspection should take roughly six to eight weeks, depending on the adequacy of the records, according to the letter from HUD. The period of the inspection will be from January 1, 2013, through December 31, 2017; however, that could be adjusted if necessary.

“They have provided us with a list of documents that are just kind of a starting point for us to gather,” said Housing and Urban Development Director Andrew Ellard. “But unlike a normal monitoring visit where they might just look at one particular area of the program, they’re going to look at all of our home activities.”

Ellard described the visit as being able to receive a much more wholistic view of everything related to the HOME program, versus one element.

“Everything from a programmatic standpoint," Ellard said. "So they will look at our organizational chart, they will look at history over the last several years of financial transactions, they’ll look at policy procedure documents for each of the programs we operate. We want to identify what, if any deficiencies are out there, I mean we just had the monitoring visit in September that identified some and we’ve spoken to those, but we want to be sure as a new administration that we’re on a firm foundation going forward.”

“I believe those will yield some answers, and just with a new administration, new staff, the merging of two departments, I think it’s important that we take this step and we look forward to really getting some clarity and making sure that we’re letting the people and the entities that we’re working with know where we stand,” said Barker.

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