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. 2 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. 4 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. 6 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. 7 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. 16
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)