The federal funding HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development) is conducting their annual audit of the city’s Housing Division while investigating a complaint of misuse of funds that was filed.
The formal complaint was filed by Grant Davis after his proposal to purchase the former city owned emergency cold weather shelter fro $1,000 (so that he and volunteers could run a homeless shelter) was not accepted by the Turlock City Council. Davis’ proposal to run a homeless shelter at B St. would have helped the city because if the B St. property is not used for the intended HUD funded use, the city would have to pay the city back the $350,000 used to purchase the property in 2005. Davis’ proposal would have helped the community by providing a emergency and homeless shelter with volunteers.
Davis’ complaint is that the City of Turlock is misusing federal funds since the city has neither used the B St. location for the HUD funded use nor paid back the fund as it is mandated by HUD to do.
According to Interim City Manager Gary Hampton, HUD told the city early this year that they would have to pay back the $350,000 to be used for low to moderate income housing development.
The Turlock City Council voted to close the B St. homeless shelter a little over a year ago. The city has tried to sell the B St. property for the appraised amount of $300,000 and then later for $150,000 while no bids have made.
Hampton clarified that every time changes are made to the city’s housing element, the HUD mandated housing plan must be rewritten. Since the B St. homeless shelter was closed, the City Council and city staff has been working on how to provide homeless services. So yes, there will be a rewritten housing plan once a decision has been made.
The housing plan includes homeless services to be provided, not a homeless shelter specifically. Currently, the emergency homeless shelter is/was a way to provide homeless services but is now no longer operational.
Another alleged form of misuse that has been going through the community is that the City of Turlock Housing Division is using more than the allotted 20% of HUD funds on administration costs (fixed costs such as building, materials, staff, etc).
Hampton stated that while fixed costs are capped at 20% of funds, the “delivery” of services also costs money.
While HUD is conducting their annual audit and investigating the citizen complaint, Hampton said “I don’t need HUD investigate for me, a citizen of the community has made a complaint and I’m conducting a complete inquiry of the Housing Division.”
“I have a legal and moral obligation to assure my Turlock City Council that we’re complying with all standards,” said Hampton. “We need to be completely transparent.”
Interim City Manager Gary Hampton, who should be replaced by a permanent City Manager by around mid June, said that American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds will be providing many services that the Housing Division will have to be busy overseeing.
This review of the Housing Division will help make sure everything is in order to manage all the ARRA funded low income developments and the expected three housing plan rewrites over the next six months.
And again, Hampton said “I don’t need to wait for HUD to tell me if something is wrong, I’ll find out and if needed, correct things myself.”