Two separate audits, one completed with data from 2012 and another with data from 2013, found the city has been shirking its duty to verify family income for eligibility and inspect dwellings prior to awarding rental assistance to needy families, according to an audit completed last month by a Bayonne based accountancy.
“The city did not perform inspections of housing units, verify income or review leases as required,” read the audit report by Donohue, Gironda & Dora, Bayonne based accounting firm.
Under the federal HOME Investment Partnerships Program, the city is required to verify income to ensure it does not exceed eligibility requirement prior to providing rental assistance, according to federal program guidelines. For example, a family of two adults and three children with a household income exceeding $48,050 is ineligible for the program.
“No supporting documentation was available indicating such inspections or income verifications were performed,” reads the audit report.
Not only is the city required to verify income, it also has to complete on-site inspections of rental housings occupied by those receiving rental assistance. “The city did not perform required inspections” reads the report.
“Date of inspections was provided but no record of reviews or inspections were available for review,” notes the auditor. When the company brought the facts to light, the city’s response: “the Department of Community Development was without an environmental housing inspector for a number of months, therefore the inspections were not able to be performed.”
The response also provides a possible rectification of the issue: “We have hired a new environmental housing inspector who is in the process of scheduling inspections and working through the backlog,” reads the city’s official response to the auditor.
Although the city has fallen short on the same issues in an audit completed last year for 2012, in its 2013 which was completed on May 5th, 2014, the city has apparently assigned program monitors to verify income eligibility from 2013 and backward, according to the report.
The auditor recommends the city perform the required inspections and income certification so as to abide by its grant agreement with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).