Sneak Preview: OIG Seeks Action on HOME Program Improvements

July 11, 2013 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

xsass_bookshot(The following was excerpted from an article in the Single Audit Information Service.) Faced with numerous oversight challenges in the HOME Investment Partnership Program that have resulted in more than 400 audit findings since 2006, the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Inspector General has recommended that the agency more carefully select projects and conduct more onsite inspections to improve program efficiency, HUD Inspector General David Montoya told attendees at the recent National Grants Management Association’s annual training conference.

The HOME Program provides block grants to states and localities to create affordable housing for low-income households. The block grants offer program flexibility with an emphasis on consolidated planning. However, such flexibility means that the program is subject to reduced federal oversight because the grants provide a good deal of discretion to the state or local governments and their subgrantees, relying on pass-through entities to properly oversee subrecipients.

The OIG assessed 77 internal and external audits of the HOME program from January 2006 to January 2012 that resulted in 437 findings. Among the most common findings were unsupported and ineligible costs, inaccurate reporting to HUD’s Integrated Disbursement and Information System, inadequate monitoring procedures, lack of oversight over program income, housing of ineligible recipients and the termination of projects.

In 2011, HUD OIG proposed several legislative changes to Congress to address these concerns. First, it proposed to discontinue or recapture funds for projects not completed within four years of commitment. “We found a whole host of projects that were never completed,” Montoya explained. “Money went out the door [for projects that were] never completed and some sites were just a vacant lot. We were giving money to nonprofits, for example, that didn’t have the infrastructure or background experience to even start to build a housing unit.” OIG also proposed legislative changes that would establish new requirements before program funds could be committed, require adequate development capacity of community housing development organizations and require that homeownership units that cannot be sold to be available to rent to eligible tenants.

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