(REISSUED February 17, 2017)
We audited the Town of Amherst’s Housing Choice Voucher program administered through a contractor, Belmont Housing Resources for Western New York, to address our audit plan priority to ensure that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) public and Indian housing programs are sufficiently administered by public housing agencies (PHA). We selected this auditee based on a risk analysis of PHAs administered by the HUD Buffalo field office. The audit objective was to determine whether officials established and implemented adequate controls over the Town’s Housing Choice Voucher program to ensure compliance with HUD regulations.
The Town and its contractor generally established and implemented adequate controls over the Town’s Housing Choice Voucher program for admission, initial application, recertification, and rental assistance payment and unit size determinations; however, they did not ensure that units met housing quality standards. Specifically, of 70 units inspected, 63 failed to meet housing quality standards, and 41 were materially noncompliant. Additionally, the Town and its contractor did not conduct adequate housing quality standards quality control inspections and did not address tenant complaints related to the condition of program units adequately and in a timely manner. If the Town and its contractor do not improve the housing quality standards inspection process for the Town’s Housing Choice Voucher program, the Town could spend more than $9.3 million on units that fail to meet HUD’s minimum housing standards in the next year.
We recommend that HUD instruct Town officials to (1) reimburse the program from non-Federal funds $118,060 spent on ineligible costs related to housing assistance payments disbursed and administrative fees received for units that materially failed to meet HUD’s housing quality standards and overpayments of housing assistance due to recertification errors; (2) certify that the identified deficiencies have been corrected for the units cited; and (3) implement procedures to ensure that the Town’s Housing Choice Voucher program units meet housing quality standards, housing quality standards quality control inspections are adequately conducted, and tenant complaints related to the condition of program units are resolved adequately and in a timely manner, which will result in more than $9.3 million in future program funds being spent for units that are decent, safe, and sanitary.