Miami Commissioners Ask For Audit Of Affordablehousing Programs
By Deserae del Campo
A scandal in which the Miami-Dade Housing Agency is alleged to have lost millions of dollars to developers of affordable-housing projects that were never built has led Miami city commissioners to seek an in-house audit of the city’s affordable-housing program.
The city program is run by the Department of Community Development.
Commissioner Joe Sanchez gained a commission consensus for an audit at a July 27 commission meeting, saying affordable housing "affects the most needy in the community, and the quicker we remove the bad apples the better so we can continue to provide housing."
City Commissioner Tom·s Regalado asked that City Manager Pete Hernandez find out how US Department of Housing and Urban Development loans are being used.
"I think the audit is a very good idea," Mr. Regalado said, "but I think we need to understand the loan process and how these HUD loans are being used. We need to know everything that is going on in the city, and this is something that I think people need to know, too."
Commissioners want to audit HUD-funded programs. Mr. Hernandez said he would "follow through with a report" to be delivered by next month, when the commission returns from hiatus. "I would like to look internally at our own house to see how we are doing," he said.
In fiscal 2005-06, the city department received $1.8 million in state housing-initiative funds, $3.4 million in Section 8 loans, $29 million in community block grants and $9 million in Home Investment Partnership funds.
Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones requested that Mr. Hernandez work with Cynthia Curry, senior advisor to the county manager, to look into projects in the city that are "in jeopardy."
Miami-Dade County officials announced recently that HUD officials will launch an investigation into the scandal. US Rep. Kendrick Meek asked for the probe.
It is uncertain if the HUD investigation of the county will trickle down to the city, said Barbara Gomez-Rodriguez, the city’s director of community development.