Sneak Preview: Audit Uncovers Housing Concerns in Virgin Islands

January 8, 2016 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

xsass_bookshot(The following was excerpted from a recent article in the Single Audit Information Service.) The Virgin Islands Housing Authority is taking steps to train and certify its internal inspectors about Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD’s) housing quality standards after a recent HUD inspector general office audit found that almost all of the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program units that the inspector general recently reviewed failed to comply with the standards.

The authority, which received more than $14 million in Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher funds in 2014, administers the low-rent housing program on the islands of St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix. HUD requires that public housing authorities receiving Section 8 funds ensure that their units are considered “decent, safe and sanitary.” HUD also requires housing authorities to inspect Section 8 units at least once a year to ensure that the properties meet minimum conditions for compliance with housing quality standards, which include 13 performance requirements (e.g., waste removal, safe electrical systems, adequate water supply, smoke alarms). HUD further requires that the authority meet such standards during the entire period of the individual’s or family’s tenancy.

During a recent compliance audit, the inspector general reviewed 65 units that Virgin Island Housing Authority staff had passed during housing quality standards inspections between Jan. 1, 2015, and March 31, 2015. The inspector general found that 62 of these units, however, failed to comply with HUD’s minimum housing quality standards, and 44 were in material noncompliance with HUD standards. The 44 units that were in material noncompliance had at least five health and safety violations or at least one uncorrected violation that predated the housing authority’s most recent inspection. For those 44 units, the authority had disbursed about $140,000 in federal Section 8 funds and received about $12,000 in administrative fees from HUD.

Among the 65 units the inspector general evaluated, it found 499 deficiencies that authority inspectors did not identify or did not report. “Damage from water leaks, missing guardrails, improper smoke detector installations and improper electrical installations were some of the deficiencies not reported by inspectors,” the inspector general explained. “Authority inspectors incorrectly passed units that did not meet the required standards.”

(The full version of this story has now been made available to all for a limited time on Thompson’s Grants Compliance Expert site.)


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