Since this story ran in July, HUD has requested a change in board members at the Bridgeport Housing Authority because “The board has exercised unprofessional oversight … for several years that has resulted in instability, continued poor financial condition, deteriorating physical condition of properties, deteriorating security of residents, numerous audit findings, increased legal action and settlements and violations of fair housing and employment laws.” Mayor Ganim replaced three board members. The Bridgeport Housing Authority oversees $51 million in property with 12,000 tenants.
A federal audit revealed a litany of errors, poor documentation and questionable spending by the Bridgeport Housing Authority, including the use of $1.75 million of housing funds to pay for past-due bills instead of helping people pay for housing. The money, which was meant to be used for housing choice vouchers and low-rent reserve funds, was provided by the federal government. The Bridgeport Housing Authority – now called Park City Communities – is disputing this finding.
The housing choice voucher program is a federal initiative that assists people in paying for housing of their choice. Park City Communities has 2,500 people on a waiting list for the voucher program and was only open to new applicants for two weeks in April of this year, according to Affordable Housing Online, a database of federal housing assistance and state affordable housing information. Before this year, the last time Park City accepted new applicants was April of 2014.
Park City Communities was also cited for several other instances of misused or misappropriated funds. Bridgeport will have to pay back $542,000 to the federal government for “ineligible costs” which included security patrol expenses that Park City misclassified as “improvement costs.”
Other ineligible expenses included $7,700 for the purchase of iPads for employees and $29,000 for a website that did not work and had to be replaced. Park City Communities has agreed to pay for the iPads.
The audit found an additional $6.2 million in “inadequately supported costs.” Park City will have to provide proper documentation for those expenses or risk having to refund that money as well.
The audit came on the heels of “complaints about improper use of funds, procurement irregularities, and inadequate safeguarding of equipment.”
The Bridgeport Housing Authority was classified as “Troubled” in 2014 when the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development gave the authority $40.2 million for low-rent programs and housing vouchers. At the time, HUD agreed to work with the authority to make the program more efficient and correct long-standing problems.