GovWatch: Hundreds in Ohio not eligible for public housing get aid

Ohio had at least 384 families that exceeded federal income limits receiving public housing assistance in 2014, according to a recently released report from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Inspector General.

The report identified families with six-figure incomes and assets worth more than $1 million paying rent at low as $300 a month among the 25,226 “over-income” families nationwide. This includes 17,761 whose income exceeded the limit for more than a year.

These housing units will cost taxpayers an estimated $104.4 million this year, the report concluded.

Local housing authorities have discretion on whether to kick someone off the program when their income rises above the threshold, the report noted, and many housing authorities do not.

Meanwhile, long lines of people with low incomes wait to get into public housing. In New York City, inspectors noted, there were 10,250 people in public housing who were over-income, and 302,079 eligible people on a waiting list.

The report doesn’t say which Ohio housing authorities allow over-income tenants. The I-Team reached out to Greater Dayton Premier Management, which responded with this statement:

“We are aware of the report and did not receive any documentation from HUD or the OIG about any individuals in our program who were defined as ‘over-income.’”

Charter sponsors had no standards

Charter school sponsors greenlighted schools to open without any standards or procedures in place to determine if the proposed schools were academically or financially sustainable, some of which were not.

This is one finding of a special audit carried out by Auditor of State Dave Yost. It was released last week and reviewed the practices of three charter school sponsors, including two in southwest Ohio, that had come under state scrutiny.

Those sponsors were the Warren County Educational Service Center, St. Aloysius Orphanage and the North Central Ohio Educational Service Center.

The review found only St. Aloysius had a procedure for evaluation applications, though it’s worth noting they were the sponsor for the string of charters schools — including three in Dayton — that collected $1.2 million from the state then closed weeks after opening.

The audit also called into question the practice of school sponsors selling financial services to schools they are supposed to be overseeing. Auditors didn’t find any evidence of illegal conflict of interest, but Yost still says the law should be changed because a strong potential for conflict exists.

Finally, auditors did find misspending at a couple northeast Ohio charter schools. The audit issued $1,727 in findings for recovery against one school’s director for using a school debit card at ATMs and for purchases without documents to show the money was spent on the school. And the director of another school was ordered to repay $3,075 because of undocumented checks and cash paid to him personally.

Not all IGs are created equal

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction has identified hundreds of millions of dollars in fraud and waste in the U.S. government’s effort to rebuild that worn-torn nation. And it could be supplanted by an agency at least one expert has called “empty and totally vacuous.”

The Department of Defense Inspector General has been given oversight of the reconstruction, though a bill pending in the U.S. House would restore SIGAR’s independence.

In an interview with the website AllGov, Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies compared the most recent reports of the DOD IG and SIGAR. The former included eight issues. The latter included 21 audits that identified $214.7 million in savings.

“(The IG report) reads more like a public relations exercise than anything else,” he told AllGov. “It also follows a pattern within the Executive Branch of steadily reducing reporting that has any negative content.

“It will take you no more than 15 minutes of comparing the (reports) to see just how empty and totally vacuous the work by the (DOD IG) really is.”

Recent findings by SIGAR include:

  • The agency released an audit on how the State Department spent $950 million assisting Afghan refugees in Pakistan in Iran. It found efforts were hampered by corruption and inaccurate information about how many refugees there are and what they need.
  • Also, SIGAR published a letter to the Department of Defense about how the military awarded a $5 million contract for a command and control facility in 2012 that was never finished and is no longer needed, though the government has spent $2.2 million on it.
  • SIGAR revealed that its review of more than 600 health clinics funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development found 13 clinics that weren’t in Afghanistan and others that were miles from their listed location.

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