oversight

The City of Richmond, CA, Did Not Adequately Support Its Use of HUD-Funded Expenses for Its Filbert Phase 1 and Filbert Phase 2 Activities

Published by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General on 2015-09-30.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                                                     U.S. DEPARTMENT OF
                                     HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT
                                              OFFICE OF INSPECTOR GENERAL




                                                          September 30, 2015
                                                                                                    MEMORANDUM NO:
                                                                                                         2015-LA-1803


Memorandum
TO:               Maria Cremer
                  Director, Community Planning and Development, San Francisco Office, 9AD

                  Dane M. Narode
                  Associate General Counsel for Program Enforcement, CACC

                  //SIGNED//
FROM:             Tanya E. Schulze
                  Regional Inspector General for Audit, Los Angeles Region, 9DGA

SUBJECT:          The City of Richmond, CA, Did Not Adequately Support Its Use of HUD-Funded
                  Expenses for Its Filbert Phase 1 and Filbert Phase 2 Activities


                                                 INTRODUCTION

We reviewed the City of Richmond’s Filbert Phase 1 and Filbert Phase 2 activities in response to
the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) San Francisco Office of
Community Planning and Development’s and HUD’s Office of Program Enforcement’s concerns
over the City’s administration of its HOME Investment Partnerships Program, Community
Development Block Grant (CDBG), and CDBG Recovery (CDBG-R) funding of Filbert Phase 1
and Filbert Phase 2 activities. HUD alleged that the City misused HUD funds, created multiple
activity numbers for the same activity, and falsely reported the completion of units in HUD’s
Integrated Disbursement and Information System (IDIS)1. In addition, HUD alleged that the City
repeatedly revised HOME voucher amounts in IDIS, a practice that HUD stated was usually not
allowed without documented justification.
The objective of our review was to determine the validity of HUD’s allegations and whether the
City used its HOME, CDBG, and CDBG-R funds in accordance with HUD program requirements.

1
 The Integrated Disbursement and Information System (IDIS) provides HUD with current information regarding the
program activities underway across the Nation, including funding data. HUD uses this information to report to Congress
and to monitor grantees. IDIS is the draw down and reporting system for the four CPD formula grant programs:
Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME), Emergency Solutions
Grants (ESG), and Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS (HOPWA); and for the CPD competitive grant
program HOPWA Competitive. Grantees also use IDIS for Consolidated Planning.
                                                     Office of Audit (Region 9)
                                     611 West 6th Street, Suite 1160, Los Angeles, CA 90017
                                            Phone (213) 894-8016, Fax (213) 894-8115
                                Visit the Office of Inspector General Web site at www.hudoig.gov.
HUD Handbook 2000.06, REV-4, provides specific timeframes for management decisions on
recommended corrective actions. For each recommendation without a management decision, please
respond and provide status reports in accordance with the HUD Handbook. Please furnish us copies
of any correspondence or directives issued because of the review.
The Inspector General Act, Title 5 United States Code, section 8M, requires that the Office of
Inspector General (OIG) post its publicly available reports on the OIG Web site. Accordingly, this
report will be posted at http://www.hudoig.gov.

                               METHODOLOGY AND SCOPE

We performed our onsite audit work at the City from April 27 through August 14, 2015. Our
audit generally covered the period July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2012. However, our review
also included review of documentation for Filbert Phase 1, which included amounts charged in
IDIS and agreements, dating back to January 2003.
To accomplish our objective, we reviewed

   •   Applicable laws, including HUD program requirements at 24 CFR (Code of Federal
       Regulations) Parts 85 and 92.
   •   IDIS activity screens and reports for Filbert Phase 1 and Filbert Phase 2.
   •   The City’s action plan and consolidated plan.
   •   Documentation provided by HUD’s San Francisco Office of Community Planning and
       Development, including monitoring reports, spreadsheets, and Line of Credit and Control
       System reports.
   •   Documentation provided by the City, including a narrative and descriptions of the Filbert
       activities, related contracts and amendments, invoices, statements, copies of checks,
       journal vouchers, and general ledger entries.
   •   Documentation from the City’s developer, including invoices, bank statements, and
       copies of checks.
We interviewed management and staff from the City’s Community Housing and Development
and Finance divisions. We also interviewed management from the City’s developer, Community
Housing and Development Corporation.
Our audit sample consisted of the more than $2.3 million in HOME, CDBG, and CDBG-R funds
that the City disbursed on its Filbert Phase 1 and Filbert Phase 2 activities. The amount was
related to five different IDIS activity numbers for Filbert Phase 1 and three IDIS activity
numbers for Filbert Phase 2.
We conducted the audit in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards,
except that we did not consider the internal controls or information systems controls of the City.
We did not follow standards in these areas because our primary objective was to determine the
validity of HUD’s concerns with respect to the Filbert Phase 1 and Filbert Phase 2 activities and
whether charges that were made for these activities complied with HUD’s program requirements.
To meet our objective, it was not necessary to fully comply with the standards, nor did our
approach negatively affect our review results.




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                                        BACKGROUND

The City’s Housing and Community Development division administers its Affordable Housing
program and provides community services for low- and moderate-income residents, which are
funded in part by CDBG and HOME funds. The division’s mission is to develop quality
neighborhoods within Richmond by partnering with neighborhood residents and community
groups. The division accomplishes this goal through assisting homeless and disabled individuals
in obtaining housing, developing new affordable housing, expanding economic opportunities in
business and employment for low- and moderate-income residents, and improving housing
conditions.
For grant years 2009 through 2014, HUD awarded the City more than $2.3 million in HOME
funds, $5.9 million in CDBG funds, and more than $366,063 in CDBG-R funds. HOME and
CDBG funds are awarded annually as formula grants to States and local governments. The
HOME program allows recipients to use funds for grants, direct loans, loan guarantees or other
forms of credit enhancements, or rental assistance or security deposits. CDBG funds can be used
to address a wide range of community needs, including annual grants to develop decent housing,
suitable living environments, and loan guarantees. CDBG-R funds were awarded to States and
local governments under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which
appropriated $1 billion in CDBG funds to carry out, on an expedited basis, eligible activities
under the CDBG program.
In a memorandum, dated March 2015, The San Francisco Office of Community Planning and
Development expressed concerns over the City’s administration of its HOME, CDBG, and
CDBG-R funding with respect to several affordable housing activities funded by these programs.
It stated that it had concerns about all of the activities identified in its memorandum. However,
after reviewing the memorandum attachments, we determined that the City had repaid program
funds for all questioned activities except Filbert Phase 1 and Filbert Phase 2. Therefore, our
review was limited to those activities.

In addition to the concerns stated in its memorandum, an Office of Community Planning and
Development monitoring report stated that the City removed the 45 year resale restrictions that
were originally imposed in its agreements with homebuyers for units constructed with HOME
funds under Filbert Phase 1. HUD requires a low income family to occupy the property as their
principal residence throughout the designated period of affordability. If the assisted housing
does not continue to be occupied by the original purchasing family, the housing must be made
available for subsequent purchase to another family who is low-income and who will use the
property as their principal residence. The City removed the resale to a low-income family
restriction and replaced it with a principal residency requirement and reduced the affordability
period to 10 years, 5 years less than the minimum 15 years required based on the amount of
HOME investment A February 2015 monitoring report stated that the City drew funds for the
Filbert Phase 2 project without an agreement, despite having certified in IDIS that it had one and
used the funds for a purpose other than what was stated in the loan agreement between the City
and its developer. Between 2010 and 2012, the City drew over $1 million dollars in HOME,
CDBG, and CDBG-R funding for Filbert Phase 2. However, the project remains incomplete.




                                                3
                                    RESULTS OF REVIEW

The City did not use its HOME, CDBG, and CDBG-R funds in accordance with HUD
requirements. The City recorded inaccurate information in IDIS for Filbert Phase 1 and Filbert
Phase 2 and removed the City’s originally imposed resale restrictions that required the purchased
property to be occupied by a low-income family for a period of 45 years. While housing was
constructed for Filbert Phase 1, the land associated with Filbert Phase 2 remained vacant, and
some of the funds were used for a purpose other than what was stated in the loan agreement
between the City and the developer. This condition occurred due to a lack of oversight of IDIS
administration and the City’s concerns that loan funds provided by a private lender would be
pulled if resale restrictions were not modified. As a result, it was unclear how much grant
funding was spent on each activity. Therefore, HUD did not have assurance that all program
funds were appropriately spent. In addition, HUD did not have assurance that long-term
affordable housing objectives would be met due to the modification of resale restrictions for
HOME assisted units.
The City Created Multiple IDIS Activity Numbers and Removed the Minimum Required
Affordability Restrictions from HOME Agreements for Filbert Phase 1
The City created six different IDIS activity numbers for Filbert Phase 1 and drew HOME funds
for the project under five of the six activity numbers. The City later shifted previously drawn
funds for three activities to another activity and canceled the previous three activities without a
documented explanation. Based on our analysis of IDIS identification numbers, we determined
that the revisions and cancellations were recorded and approved by the City’s previous HOME
and CDBG coordinators. However, because these individuals no longer worked for the City,
current staff was unable to explain the changes. During a site visit, we verified that eight Filbert
townhomes (three were HOME funded) had been completed. The final amounts were drawn for
the remaining Filbert Phase 1 activity numbers in 2001 and 2007, respectively. However, the
activities remained open in IDIS with combined draws of more than $1.2 million.
Regulations at 24 CFR 85.20(b(2) require grantees and subgrantees to maintain records that
adequately identify the source and application of funds provided for financially assisted
activities.

Regulations at 24 CFR 92.502(d)(1) state that complete project completion information must be
entered into the disbursement and information system, or otherwise provided, within 120 days of
the final project drawdown. If satisfactory project completion information is not provided, HUD
may suspend further project set-ups or take other corrective actions.

The City also reduced the resale restrictions on the HOME constructed units that would have
required a low income family to occupy the property throughout a term of 45 years. The 45 year
requirement was imposed by the City, and was not required by HUD. However, based on the
amount invested by the City, the minimum period of affordability should have been 15 years.
Instead, the City included a primary residence restriction, removed the resale restrictions and
reduced the affordability period to 10 years. Since the minimum affordability period of 15 years
was not maintained, the activity is ineligible for HOME funding according to program
regulations.




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24 CFR 92.254 (a)(4) further states that HOME assisted homeownership units must meet the
long-term affordability requirements for the period of time required based on the amount of
HOME investment. In addition, 24 CFR 92.254(a)(5) requires grant recipients to impose resale
or recapture provisions, at its option, to ensure the long-term affordability of HOME funded
projects.

24 CFR 92.503(b)(1) states that any HOME funds invested in housing that does not meet the
affordability requirements for the period specified in 24 CFR 92.254, as applicable, must be
repaid by the participating jurisdiction in accordance with paragraph (b)(3) of the section.

The City Drew Funds for Filbert Phase 2 Without an Agreement and Did Not Produce a
Project
The City drew more than $1 million in HOME, CDBG, and CDBG-R funds for its Filbert Phase
2 project. Over $870,000 was drawn before the City executed a legally binding agreement with
its developer. Since January 2010, HUD has required grant recipients to certify in IDIS that they
had an agreement in place before withdrawing funds. Although the certification screen had no
date or time stamp and no user name, the user would have to click the “I accept” button before
proceeding to the IDIS draw screen.
24 CFR 92.504(b) states that before disbursing any HOME funds to any entity, the participating
jurisdiction must enter into a written agreement with that entity.
Similar to Filbert Phase 1, the City created multiple activity numbers for Filbert Phase 2. There
were three activity numbers created in IDIS for Filbert Phase 2.
Accomplishment data were entered into IDIS for one of the Filbert Phase 2 activity numbers,
stating that people were living in completed properties. However, the addresses belonged to
Filbert Phase 1. One of the three activity numbers was shown as completed in IDIS, and funds
were drawn under two activity numbers in which the stated use of funds in the developer’s
invoice documentation was repayment of the developer’s loan. However, the loan agreement
between the City and the developer stated that project funds would be used to pay for
predevelopment expenses.
Although accomplishment data had been entered in IDIS, the Filbert Phase 2 parcels of land
remained vacant. The City stated that the project delay was due to problems with environmental
remediation, securing entitlements, and securing additional funding. However, since 2010, the
City disbursed more than $1 million for Filbert Phase 2 and no project construction has been
initiated. 24 CFR Part 92 states that a commitment to a specific local project means that the
participating jurisdiction and project owner have executed a written legally binding agreement
under which HOME assistance will be provided for a project that can reasonably be expected to
start within 12 months of the agreement date. However, the Filbert Phase 2 project has been
indefinitely delayed.

Because the project was misrepresented in IDIS and no project had been produced 7 years after
the funding date, the associated funding should be repaid.




                                                5
Conclusion

The City did not use its HUD funds for Filbert Phase 1 and Filbert Phase 2 activities in
accordance with HUD requirements. The City constructed three HOME-funded townhomes and
disbursed more than $2 million in HOME, CDBG, and CDBG-R funding for both projects. In
addition, the City (1) removed restrictions requiring a low income family to occupy HOME
funded units for a minimum of 15 years (Filbert Phase 1); (2) entered inaccurate information that
misrepresented the status of its project in IDIS; and (3) withdrew funds without an agreement in
place (Filbert Phase 2). As a result of the City’s actions, long-term affordability of HOME
assisted units was not maintained, and HUD lacked assurance on how funding was used for the
projects.

                                   RECOMMENDATIONS

We recommend that the Director of the HUD San Francisco Office of Community Planning and
Development require the City to
1A.    Repay from non Federal funds $1,290,264 for funds spent on Filbert Phase 1 due to the
       modification of the resale restrictions for HOME assisted units, which resulted in a
       failure to comply with HUD’s minimum required period of affordability.
1B.    Repay $1,089,613 in ineligible costs for funds that were misrepresented in IDIS, funds
       that were drawn before a legally binding agreement was in place between the City and
       the developer, and did not produce a project (Filbert Phase 2).
1C.    Implement policies and procedures that require HOME, CDBG, and CDBG-R program
       expenditures to be adequately supported, ensure proper oversight of IDIS administration
       and maintenance of support for grant expenditures, and ensure long-term affordability of
       HOME projects and activities.
We also recommend that the Associate Counsel for the Office of Program Enforcement
1D.    Determine legal sufficiency and if legally sufficient, pursue civil and administrative
       remedies as appropriate for the City’s inaccurate IDIS reporting and inappropriate draws.




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Appendix A


                        SCHEDULE OF QUESTIONED COSTS

                       Recommendation
                             number               Ineligible 1/

                                      1A                 $1,290,264

                                      1B                 $1,089,613

                       Totals                            $2,379,877


1/   Ineligible costs are costs charged to a HUD-financed or HUD-insured program or activity
     that the auditor believes are not allowable by law; contract; or Federal, State, or local
     policies or regulations. The ineligible costs for recommendation 1A represent funds used
     for the Filbert Phase 1 project which did not meet affordability requirements. The
     ineligible costs for recommendation 1B represent funds used for Filbert Phase 2. The
     City used funds for Filbert Phase 2 without securing an agreement and a project has not
     been constructed.




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Appendix B
             AUDITEE COMMENTS AND OIG’S EVALUATION




Ref to OIG      Auditee Comments
Evaluation




Comment 1




                               8
Comment 2




            9
Comment 3




Comment 2




            10
Comment 2




            11
Comment 2




Comment 2




            12
Comment 4




Comment 5




            13
Comment 6



Comment 7



Comment 8



Comment 9



Comment 10




             14
                    OIG EVALUATION OF AUDITEE COMMENTS


Comment 1   We acknowledge the background information provided by the City. We are
            aware of the circumstances and market conditions that contributed to the project
            running into difficulties.
Comment 2   While we recognize that a 10 year principal residency restriction was placed in
            the homebuyer agreements, the restriction does not ensure long-term affordability
            of a minimum of 15 years and occupancy by a low-income family. Therefore, the
            10 year restriction does not comply with the requirements of 24 CFR
            92.254(a)(5)(i).
Comment 3   We discussed the lack of proper affordability restrictions for the three HOME
            assisted units in Comment 2.
Comment 4   The City’s revision of the affordability requirements go beyond reducing the
            period of affordability below the minimum of 15 years based on the amount of
            HOME investment. The City also removed the resale restriction that would have
            required the property to be occupied by a low income family during the
            prescribed time period. These changes are in violation of the affordability
            requirements 24 CFR 92.254(a)(4) and 92.254(a)(5)(i). The City will need to
            work with HUD during the audit resolution process regarding the possibility of a
            waiver pertaining to affordability requirements.
Comment 5   We acknowledge that the City was in a difficult position and faced with the
            potential loss of the project, and took actions that it believed were most prudent
            considering the circumstances at that time. However, HOME program regulations
            are clear in that they require that long-term affordability time periods are
            preserved based on the amount of HOME investment. In addition, the
            affordability requirements also stipulate that the property will be occupied by a
            low income family during the prescribed period of time (see Comment 2).
            Although the City’s actions contributed to saving the project, it still did not
            comply with HUD’s requirements. The HOME regulations at 24 CFR
            92.503(b)(1) state that if the project fails to meet long term affordability, the
            HOME investment must be repaid. The City will need to work with HUD during
            the audit resolution process to discuss the possibility of a waiver of the
            affordability requirements.
Comment 6   Based on our review, we recommend repayment of the $1,290,264 used for
            Filbert Phase 1 since it did not meet HOME affordability requirements. The City
            will need to work with HUD during the audit resolution process regarding
            repayment or the possibility of a waiver of the affordability requirements.
Comment 7   The legally binding agreement between the City and its Developer was a contract
            dated September 30, 2010. The City should not have committed HOME funds
            until an agreement was in place. We acknowledge that funds would be put into
            escrow before closing, but not before a legally binding agreement was in place.




                                            15
Comment 8     Since the release of the draft report, we combined recommendations 1B and 1C.
              No units were constructed, the project was misrepresented in IDIS, and funds
              were drawn without an agreement in place. Therefore, all $1,089,613 in HOME,
              CDBG, and CDBG-R funds disbursed for the project were considered to be
              ineligible.
Comment 9     We acknowledge the City’s agreement with recommendation 1D. The City will
              need to work with HUD during the audit resolution process to resolve the
              recommendation.
Comment 10 We maintain that the City did not use its HUD funds in accordance with the
           related program requirements. The City did not comply with HOME affordability
           requirements, drew funds without having a legally binding agreement in place,
           misrepresented the project in IDIS, and did not produce a project. While the City
           used its discretion when faced with the potential loss of one of its projects, the
           actions still did not provide a result that met HUD requirements.




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