Audit faults housing agency
Annapolis authority may have mishandled $3 million, HUD finds
The Annapolis housing authority could be required to repay $3 million in federal funds after auditors found problems in how the organization paid for services in almost a dozen contracts.
The Housing Authority of the City of Annapolis oversees public housing in the state capital.
Auditors with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said the agency showed poor record-keeping and made payments to vendors without official contracts.
If the authority can’t prove its purchases used federal money at a “fair and reasonable” price and followed procedures, it could be liable for the $3 million — about 23 percent of all contract payments made from December to July.
It was the second audit of the housing authority this year.
In the first, auditors said the authority had mishandled federal grant money targeted at improving the self-sufficiency of public housing residents.
Authority officials have not commented on the latest audit.
HUD said the authority officials told auditors they were working to provide missing documentation to prove money was spent wisely.
Officials also said they plan to review record keeping, procurement and documentation training with employees, HUD said.
The authority is currently led by interim executive director Richard Walton, who also serves as financial director.
Walton took over after executive director Melvin Colbert resigned in August.
Walton previously served as interim director when another former executive director, Vincent Leggett, resigned in Sep- tember 2015. He served until Colbert’s hire.
Walton oversees authority finances. A board of commissioners has final approval on contracts.
Annapolis Mayor Mike Pantelides said he was “disappointed that taxpayer money was mismanaged.”
The housing authority is an independent agency chartered by the state. The Annapolis mayor appoints members to its board of commissioners, subject to the approval of the City Council.
The authority’s fiscal year 2015 expenses totaled about $14.5 million, according to authority budget documents.
Of 12 vendors reviewed, HUD auditors said, 11 revealed “improperly procured services and products” — meaning they did not follow HUD procurement policies.
Auditors said the housing authority did not document cost estimates before making purchases, made purchases without having contracts in place, paid for services after contracts expired and failed to extend contracts properly.
The authority’s efforts to repair housing units were cited among problem spots. For five of seven vendors used for plumbing, heating and unit repair, pest control and maintenance supplies, auditors said, the authority didn’t have a contract to support payments.
Authority officials acknowledged deficiencies, auditors said, but pushed back on some assertions and said they were working to provide required documentation.
The audit continues a year-long stretch of problems for the authority.
Multiple resignations, the stalled redevelopment of a housing project, and crime at some properties has put the authority in the spotlight.
The mayor has been a critic of the organization.
Pantelides, a Republican elected in 2013, said three board members he has appointed, and a fourth still to come to fill an expiring term, can bring about change.
“I have faith that people on the board can turn this around,” he said.
“The board can create best practices for the future.”