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2012-04-11_HUD_to_CEG_(SSHA)

2012-04-11_HUD_to_CEG_(SSHA)

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Published by dayusko
Sen. Grassley's Saratoga Springs Housing Authority documents
Sen. Grassley's Saratoga Springs Housing Authority documents

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Published by: dayusko on Apr 12, 2012
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04/13/2012

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us,
IH<:PARTMENTOFHOUSINGANDURBANDEVELOPMENT
WASHINGTON.IX20411000
\SSISTANTSECRETARYFORCONGRESSIONALANDINTERGOVERNMLNTALRElAliONS
1
TheHonorableCharlesE.GrassleyRankingMemberCommitteeontheJudiciaryUnitedStatesSenateWashington.DC
20510-6275
DearSenatorGrassley:IamwritinginresponsetoyourlettertoHousingandUrbanDevelopment(HUD)SecretaryShaunDonovanofFebruary16,2012concerningtheSaratogaSpringsHousingAuthority(SSHA).Asyouknow,underoursystemoffederalism,publichousingauthorities(PHAs)areentitiescreatedandgovernedbystateandlocalgovernments,notbyHUDorthefederalgovernment.Suchstateandlocalgovernments,throughtheboardstheyappoint,accordinglyhaveaprimaryoversightresponsibilitywithrespecttoPHAs.Atthesametime,asIhavenotedinpreviousletters,HUDiscommittedtotakingeffectiveactiontoimplementandstrengthenourstewardshipoffederalfundsprovidedtoPHAsinordertoprotecttheinterestsofresidentsandtaxpayers.Asoutlinedbelow.thatistheapproachthathasbeenandisbeingfollowedwithrespecttoSSHA.Initially,yourletterasksaboutHUD'soversightrolewithrespecttoSSHA.AswithotherPHAs,andasdetailedinpreviousletters,Hl.Jl)undertakesregular,systematicoversightofSSHA,includingreviewofitsannualfinancialstatements,physicalinspectionsoffederalpublichousinginventoryanddesignationunderthePublicHousingAssessmentSystem(PHAS).
In
addition,fact-specifictriggersleadtomoretargetedoversightofPHAs,basedonsuchfactorsascrediblecomplaintsandmediareports.SuchoversightinvolvesHUDFieldandHeadquartersstaffasappropriate.HUDalsoworksinpartnershipwithourOfficeofInspectorGeneral(OIG).referscasestoOIGasappropriate,andconsiderscarefullyanyrecommendationsconcerningspecificPHAsthatresultfromitsauditsandinvestigations.InthecaseofSSHA,severalmediaandotherreportsearlierthisyearhaveledtotargetedoversightthathasbeenandisbeingundertakenbyourBuffaloFieldOffice.Specifically,afterreceivingreportsallegingthattheSSHAExecutiveDirector(ED)hadhiredhissonanddaughterwithouttheexecutionofaconflictofinterestwaiver,HUD'sBuffaloFieldOfficewrotetoSSHAonthematteronJanuary12,2012.FurtherinvestigationconfirmedtheallegationswithrespecttotheED'sdaughter,althoughtheED'ssonhadbeenhiredbeforetheEDbeganservinginthatpositionbutwaspromotedundertheED.HUD'sBuffaloOfficewrotetotheSSHABoardChairmanonMarch14,2012toinformhimofHUD'sdeterminationthattheSSHAhadviolateditsAnnualContributionsContractwithHUDbyhiringthedaughterwithoutavalidwaiver.TheBuffaloofficealsodirectedSSHAtosubmitaboardresolution,signedbytheboardsecretary,includingaspecificexplanationofwhat"goodcause"justifiedthehiringandawrittenlegalopinionfromSSHAcounselthatthehiringoftheED'sdaughter,asweilasthepromotionofhisson,didnotconflictwithstateandlocalJaw.TheMarch14letterrequestedthatthedocumentsbeprovidedwithin30days.CopiesoftheMarch14letterandrelatedcorrespondenceareenclosedwiththisletter.InHIJD'sBuffaloe-rnailedSSHAlatenewsrelatingtoSSHAtravelexpenses,towhichSSHArespondedbystatingthatalmostallthequestionedtravelwaspaid
for
withnon-federalfunds.OnMarch22,HUD'sBuffaloofficelettera
espanol.hud.gov
 
2
specificbreakdownofthetravelexpenseitemswithinthirtydays,alongwithcopiesofBoardminutesapprovingthetravelandtheBoard-approvedtravelpolicy,Copiesoftherelevantcorrespondenceande-mailsareenclosed.AfterlearningofallegationsthattheSSHAEDhadnotgivennewleasestocertaintenantsasamechanismtoexertinfluenceoverthem,HUDreviewedinformationonSSHAnon-renewalsin2011-12,andfoundthatallsuchnon-renewalswerebecausethetenanteitherabandonedtheapartment,died,wasevictedfornon-paymentorincarceration,gavenoticetovacate,lefttheapartmenttoattendrehabilitation,orabandonedtheapartmentwithrentdue.HUDwillinvestigatefurtherif
it
receivesspecificinformationcorroboratingorelaboratingontheallegations.Theinformationaboverespondstoquestions
1,
4,7,and9inyourletter.WithrespecttotheremainingquestionsonSSHAraisedinyourletterandsubsequentlybyyourstaff:EnclosedwiththisletterarecopiesofthelatestavailableSSHAfinancialstatements,whichdonotindicatethatSSHAhasanynonprofitaffiliates.HUDdoesnothaveacopyoftheSSHAEDemploymentcontractbutthatinformationshouldbeavailablefromSSHA,whichweunderstandhasreleasedthecontractpursuanttothestatefreedomofinformationact.Asyoumaybeaware,theSSHABoardrecentlyvotednottoextendtheED'scontractandannouncedthatitisconductingafullreviewofSSHA'soperationsandsalaries,includingarrangingforacomparabilitystudywithrespecttotheED'ssalary.WithrespecttoyourrequestforinformationonfundsprovidedtoSSHAundertheAmericanRecoveryReinvestmentAct(ARRA)andhowtheywereused,SSHAreceived$577,224underARRA,allofwhichhasbeenexpended.ThefundingwasusedforrenovationandotherworkattwoSSHAproperties,includingupgradingthesecuritysystem,replacingexteriorsiding,replacementofstovesandrefrigeratorandkitchenreplacement,electricalpolelights,andnewdoorsatJefferson/VanderbiltTerrace,andrepairingthefrontentranceandupgradingthesecuritysystematStonequistApartments.HUDdoesnothavecopiesofSSHAlegal,consulting,andprofessionalservicesbills,butsuchinformationshouldbeavailablefromSSHA.Copiesofrelevante-rnailsandcorrespondencebetweenHUDandSSHAareenclosedwiththisletter.Withrespecttoyourstaff'sFebruary23e-mailaskingaboutanewsarticleclaimingthattheSSHAEDstatedthatHUDhadrefusedtoapprovetheuseoffundingtohireanexterminatortoaddressthebedbugprobleminStonequistApartments,thisclaimisnotcorrect.Infact,HUD'sBuffaloFieldOfficeinformedSSHAthatitisrequiredtoprovide"decent,safe,andsanitary"housingtotenants,thatbedbugsgenerallyshouldbehandledthewaythatotherpestsarehandled,thatmosthousingauthorities"arecoveringthecostsofprofessionalexterminators,"thattheissue"shouldbeaddressedinyouradminplanormaintenancepolicy,"butthattherewasnoadditionalHUDfundingavailabletortreatmentofbedbugs.Acopyoftherelevantemailexchangeisenclosed.
 
3Again,SecretaryDonovanandtheObamaAdministrationarecommittedtoeffectivestewardshipoffederalfundsdesignedtoprovidelowincomefamilieswithqualityaffordablehousing.Itrustthatthisletterandtheenclosedmaterialswillansweryourspecificinquiries.ThankyoutoryourinterestintheDepartment'sprogramsandactivities.Sincerely,Peter
A.
KovarAssistantSecretaryforCongressionalandIntergovernmentalRelationsEnclosuresCc:
HUD
OfficeofInspectorGeneral

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