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In accordance with our regional plan to review public housing programs and because of weaknesses identified by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), HUD’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) reviewed the public housing programs of the Kenner Housing Authority in Kenner, LA.  Our overall objective was to determine whether the Authority administered its public housing programs in accordance with regulations and guidance.  This memorandum addresses only the Authority’s Housing Choice Voucher program. 

The Authority did not administer its program in accordance with HUD regulations.  Specifically, for families ported into its program, it

• Ported a family into its program after the family’s program participation had ended;
• Did not always issue vouchers;
• Did not meet billing deadlines;
• Did not properly execute housing assistance payments contracts;
• Did not always ensure that all household income was reported when performing income verifications;
• Did not always perform (1) housing quality standards inspections, (2) annual reexaminations, (3) unit rent reasonableness assessments, (4) background checks, and (5) property-owner screenings; and
• Did not properly validate program families through HUD’s Public and Indian Housing Information Center system, which provides program participant information.

This condition occurred because the Authority did not maintain adequate staffing levels and did not train its program staff.  In addition, the Authority’s board did not have a good understanding of its roles and responsibilities for providing oversight.  Further, the former executive director did not provide strong leadership or planning for the Authority.  As a result, the Authority spent more than $180,000 for ineligible and unsupported housing assistance payments; and may have an unjustified Section 8 Management Assessment Program (SEMAP) score for 2012.

We recommend that the Director, Office of Public Housing, New Orleans, LA, require the Authority to repay its program $13,449 for ineligible assistance paid on behalf of one family, and support or repay an additional $171,572 for assistance paid on behalf of four families.  We also recommend that the Director (1) require the Authority to implement adequate controls of its program, (2) provide the Authority with technical assistance and training regarding the requirements of the annual contributions contract, HUD requirements, and the responsibilities of the executive director and the board, (3) review the Authority’s program administration and determine whether the recapture of any administrative fees provided for the period January 1, 2008, through October 31, 2012, or a reduction in future administrative fee payments is warranted, (4) include in the Authority’s Public Housing Authority Recovery and Sustainability Action Plan that outside oversight will remain in place until staff competency in the administration of its program improves, and (5) adjust the Authority’s SEMAP score in HUD’s Public and Indian Housing Information Center system considering the findings reported in this memorandum.