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Feds accuse Travis housing agency with mismanagement of funds

Thursday, August 27, 2009 by Austin Monitor

The Housing Authority of Travis County (HATC) is in trouble with federal authorities. An audit by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) accuses HATC of approving $4.1 million in transfers between federal and non-federal accounts, which is not allowed under HUD guidelines. HUD also says the agency spent $600,000 on undocumented expenses as well as making a small amount of clearly ineligible expenditures.

Interim Director Craig Alter has agreed to repay the $3,000 in documented ineligible expenditures and said the authority has separated federal and non-federal accounts and was reviewing past transactions in order to determine what might be due to the government.

Budget transfers between subsidized federal and non-federal programs – in order to cover program shortfalls — will not occur again, Alter said. Right now, the agency is unraveling $3.2 million in past transactions and transfers. If there is a need to replenish the federal coffers at HATC, it will come from three revenue-producing properties, Alter said.

The Housing Authority of Travis County is governed by a five-member board of commissioners appointed by the county commissioners. It is an independent, government-funded agency charged with the responsibility of providing an adequate supply of low income housing to help meet the housing needs of the residents of Travis County. It also administers and receives grant funds from the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for the benefit of low income persons. For fiscal year 2007, HUD awarded the Authority more than $5.8 million, according to the audit.

Long-time local activists Richard Moya and Melvin Wrenn are both members of HATC board.

Travis County officials could not be reached for comment Wednesday. HATC is totally separate from and should not be confused with the Housing Authority of the City of Austin although that agency also receives federal funding for low income housing.

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