oversight

The Grand Rapids Housing Commission, Grand Rapids, MI, Did Not Always Correctly Calculate and Pay Housing Assistance for Units Converted Under the Rental Assistance Demonstration

Published by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General on 2018-06-11.

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

    Grand Rapids Housing Commission,
            Grand Rapids, MI
     Housing Assistance Payments for Rental Assistance
             Demonstration-Converted Units




Office of Audit, Region 5        Audit Report Number: 2018-CH-1001
Chicago, IL                                            June 11, 2018



                             2
To:            Douglas C. Gordon, Director of Public Housing Hub, 5FPH

               //signed//
From:          Kelly Anderson, Regional Inspector General for Audit, Chicago Region, 5AGA
Subject:       The Grand Rapids Housing Commission, Grand Rapids, MI, Did Not Always
               Correctly Calculate and Pay Housing Assistance for Units Converted Under the
               Rental Assistance Demonstration


Attached is the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Office of Inspector
General’s (OIG) final results of our review of the Grand Rapids Housing Commission’s Rental
Assistance Demonstration program.
HUD Handbook 2000.06, REV-4, sets 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 audit.
The Inspector General Act, Title 5 United States Code, section 8M, requires that OIG post its
publicly available reports on the OIG website. Accordingly, this report will be posted at
http://www.hudoig.gov.
If you have any questions or comments about this report, please do not hesitate to call me at
(312) 913-8499.
                    Audit Report Number: 2018-CH-1001
                    Date: June 11, 2018

                    The Grand Rapids Housing Commission, Grand Rapids, MI, Did Not Always
                    Correctly Calculate and Pay Housing Assistance for Units Converted Under
                    the Rental Assistance Demonstration


Highlights

What We Audited and Why
We audited the Grand Rapids Housing Commission’s Rental Assistance Demonstration program
(RAD) based on the activities included in our 2017 annual audit plan and our analysis of the
housing agencies participating in RAD in Region 5’s jurisdiction (States of Illinois, Indiana,
Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin). Our audit objective was to determine whether the
Commission correctly calculated housing assistance payments for the units converted under the
program.

What We Found
The Commission did not always correctly calculate and pay housing assistance for the units
converted under the program. It also did not always maintain documentation to support its
calculations of households’ housing assistance payments and program eligibility. As a result, the
Commission overpaid nearly $16,000 and underpaid more than $3,000 in housing assistance and
utility allowance reimbursements. In addition, it had unsupported housing assistance payments.

What We Recommend
We recommend that the Director of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s
Detroit Office of Public Housing require the Commission to (1) reimburse its program nearly
$9,000 from non-Federal funds due to inappropriate calculations, (2) reimburse the appropriate
households or projects more than $3,000 for underpayment of housing assistance and utility
allowances, (3) support or reimburse the appropriate households for unsupported housing
assistance payments, (4) pursue collection from applicable households or projects or reimburse
its program nearly $7,000 from non-Federal funds for the overpayment of housing assistance,
and (5) implement adequate quality control procedures to ensure that it correctly pays housing
assistance.
Table of Contents
Background and Objective......................................................................................3

Results of Audit ........................................................................................................4
         Finding: The Commission Did Not Always Correctly Calculate and Pay Housing
         Assistance and Utility Allowances ................................................................................... 4

Scope and Methodology ...........................................................................................8

Internal Controls ....................................................................................................10

Appendixes ..............................................................................................................12
         A. Schedule of Questioned Costs and Funds To Be Put to Better Use ...................... 12

         B. Auditee Comments and OIG’s Evaluation ............................................................. 13

         C. Federal and the Commission’s Requirements ........................................................ 18




                                                              2
Background and Objective
The Grand Rapids Housing Commission was established by the Grand Rapids City Commission
in 1966, in accordance with the State of Michigan’s Housing Facilities Act 18 of 1933, to
provide affordable housing for low-income residents and to eliminate substandard housing
conditions. The Commission is independently administered and is governed by a five-member
board appointed by the city manager and approved by the Grand Rapids City Commission.

In 2012, Congress authorized the Rental Assistance Demonstration program (RAD) to test a new
way of meeting the large and growing capital improvement needs of the Nation’s aging public
housing stock. Through RAD, properties convert their assistance to long-term, project-based
Section 8 contracts. These new contracts provide a more reliable source of operating subsidies
that allow public housing agencies and owners to safely leverage private capital – typically debt
and equity – to finance the property rehabilitation or replacement. The contracts, as well as
underlying use restrictions, must be renewed each time they expire, ensuring the long-term
affordability of the improved properties.

As of August 2017, the Commission had six developments under RAD. Three of the
developments, which included one multiphase project, were closed, and three had been awarded
commitments to enter into housing assistance payments contracts. The closed developments
included 192 units that were converted from the public housing program to the Project-Based
Voucher program. The projects converted under RAD are owned by limited partnerships, which
are under the direct control of the Commission. The projects are governed by three-member boards
of commissions appointed by the Commission’s board.

The Project-Based Voucher program is a component of the Housing Choice Voucher program,
and some of the regulatory requirements of the Housing Choice Voucher program also apply to
the Project-Based Voucher program. Under the Project-Based Voucher program, a housing
subsidy is paid to the project owner by the public housing agency on behalf of the participating
family. The family then pays the difference between the actual rent charged by the owner and
the amount subsidized by the program. The public housing agency must reexamine the family’s
income and composition at least annually and must inspect each unit at least annually to ensure
that it meets the minimum housing quality standards.

The objective of our audit was to determine whether the Commission correctly calculated the
housing assistance payments for the units converted under the program.




                                                3
Results of Audit

Finding: The Commission Did Not Always Correctly Calculate and
Pay Housing Assistance and Utility Allowances
The Commission did not always correctly calculate and pay housing assistance for the units
converted under the program. It also did not always maintain documentation to support its
calculations of housing assistance payments and household program eligibility. The weaknesses
occurred because the Commission lacked adequate procedures and controls to ensure that
housing assistance payments were correctly calculated and paid in accordance with the U.S.
Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) and its own requirements. As a result,
the Commission overpaid nearly $16,000 and underpaid more than $3,000 in housing assistance
and utility allowance reimbursements. In addition, it had unsupported housing assistance
payments.
The Commission Miscalculated Housing Assistance
We reviewed 67 certifications1 to determine whether the Commission correctly calculated and
paid housing assistance from the date of conversion under the program through November 2017.
Our review was limited to the information maintained by the Commission in its household files.
Contrary to HUD’s requirements,2 for the 67 certifications reviewed, 24 had incorrect housing
assistance payment calculations. The 24 certifications contained 1 or more of the following
calculation errors:

        21 certifications had incorrect income due to miscalculations or a lack of support,
        7 certifications had incorrect utility allowances, and
        1 certification had an incorrect minimum rent.

For the households associated with the 24 certifications, the Commission overpaid $8,735 and
underpaid $2,663 in housing assistance. Because the housing assistance was incorrectly
calculated, the Commission inappropriately received $4,870 in administrative fees. In addition,
it had $44 in unsupported housing assistance payments.

Further, 63 of the 67 certifications contained errors that had no impact on the housing assistance.
These errors included incorrect minimum rents, income, asset values, and member codes. For 47
of the 63 certifications reviewed, the Commission did not include the tracking code required on
form HUD-50058 under RAD, and for 14 certifications, it used the incorrect section of the form
HUD-50058 to calculate housing assistance.



1
  Our methodology for selecting the 67 certifications, which includes 36 that were statistically selected, is explained
in the Scope and Methodology section of this audit report.
2
  See appendix C for criteria.

                                                           4
The Commission Incorrectly Paid Housing Assistance
The 67 certifications reviewed were for 44 households.3 For the 44 households, we compared
the housing assistance and utility allowance payments calculated by the Commission to the
amounts paid for the program households. The Commission did not always pay housing
assistance and utility allowances in accordance with its calculations. Specifically, it incorrectly
(1) overpaid $5,065 in housing assistance for nine households, (2) underpaid $177 in housing
assistance for three households, and (3) underpaid $263 in utility allowances for four households.

The Commission Did Not Maintain Supporting Documentation
The Commission’s files were missing eligibility documentation4 for five households. The
missing documentation included support for immigration status and birth certificates. Because
the household files were missing required eligibility documentation, HUD and the Commission
lacked assurance that the households were eligible for the program. In response to the audit, the
Commission was able to provide copies of missing eligibility documentation to support the
$21,298 in unsupported housing assistance payments.

In addition, two households had overpaid housing assistance due to unreported income. The
unreported income documented in the household files resulted in overpayments of $1,877 in
housing assistance.

The Commission Lacked Adequate Procedures and Controls
The Commission lacked adequate quality control procedures to ensure that housing assistance for
the units converted under the program was correctly calculated and paid in accordance with
HUD’s and its own requirements. According to the director of leased housing for the
Commission’s Housing Choice Voucher program, before the housing units had been converted
under RAD, the Asset Management Department oversaw the properties. Therefore, the property
managers and assistants calculated housing assistance payments for the public housing and
Project-Based Voucher program participants. After the conversion, the executive director
decided that the housing coordinators for the Housing Choice Voucher program should calculate
the housing assistance as they were the most knowledgeable.

During the transition, the director of leased housing thought that the Asset Management
Department had performed a quality control review of the files. However, based on our audit,
she realized that the files had not received a quality control review. Therefore, as of November
2017, the Leased Housing Department had implemented quality control reviews of the housing
assistance calculations for the Project-Based Voucher program participants.




3
    Multiple certifications were reviewed for several households.
4
    See appendix C for criteria.

                                                            5
In addition, according to the director of leased housing, the Commission switched to a new
program software and began issuing housing assistance payments using the new software in
December 2016. According to the director of asset management and finance, the Commission
did not fully implement the automatic adjustment feature of the software until February 10, 2017.
Before that date, the system was set up to perform adjustments for new program participants
only. Therefore, adjustments for any other reason had to be made manually. However, as part of
the manual process, the Commission failed to request manual adjustments for transactions
between December 2016 and February 10, 2017.

Conclusion
The Commission lacked adequate procedures and controls for its program to ensure that the
housing assistance was correctly calculated and paid for the units converted under RAD. As a
result, the Commission overpaid $15,677 ($8,735 + $1,877 + $5,065) and underpaid $3,103
($2,663 + $177 + $263) in housing assistance. Further, it was unable to support $44 in housing
assistance payments.

In accordance with 24 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) 982.152(d), HUD is permitted to
reduce or offset any program administrative fees paid to a public housing agency if it fails to
perform its administrative responsibilities correctly or adequately under the program. The
Commission received $4,870 in program administrative fees related to the inappropriate housing
assistance payments for the 24 program certifications with incorrectly calculated housing
assistance.

Recommendations
We recommend that the Director of HUD’s Detroit Office of Public Housing require the
Commission to
 1A. Reimburse its program $13,605 from non-Federal funds ($8,735 in overpayments of
     housing assistance and utility allowances + $4,870 in administrative fees) due to
     inappropriate calculations.

 1B. Reimburse the appropriate households $2,663 from non-Federal funds for the
     underpayment of housing assistance and utility allowances due to inappropriate
     calculations.

 1C. Support or reimburse the appropriate households $44 from non-Federal funds for the
     unsupported payments of housing assistance cited in this finding.

 1D. Pursue collection from the applicable households or reimburse its program $1,877 from
     non-Federal funds for the overpayment of housing assistance due to unreported income.

 1E. Pursue collection from the applicable projects or reimburse its program $5,065 from non-
     Federal funds for the overpayment of housing assistance.




                                                6
 1F. Reimburse the appropriate projects $177 from program funds for the underpayment of
     housing assistance.

 1G. Reimburse the appropriate households $263 from program funds for the underpayment of
     utility allowance reimbursements.

 1H. Review the payments for all certifications completed between December 2016 and
     February 2017 for the remaining Housing Choice Voucher and Project-Based Voucher
     program participants to ensure that adjustments were appropriately paid.

 1I.   Implement adequate quality control procedures to ensure that it correctly pays housing
       assistance.

We recommend that the Director of HUD’s Detroit Office of Public Housing
 1J.   Ensure that the quality controls over the calculation of housing assistance payments
       implemented by the Commission are sufficient.




                                                7
Scope and Methodology
We performed our onsite audit work between September 2017 and February 2018 at the
Commission’s offices located at 1420 Fuller Avenue SE, Grand Rapids, MI; 1080 Creston Plaza
Drive, Grand Rapids, MI; and 821 Division Avenue, Grand Rapids, MI. The audit covered the
period January 1, 2012, through August 31, 2017, but was expanded as necessary.

To accomplish our audit objective, we interviewed HUD program staff and the Commission’s
employees. In addition, we obtained and reviewed the following:
        Applicable laws; HUD’s regulations at 24 CFR Parts 5, 982, and 983; HUD’s Public and
         Indian Housing notices; and HUD’s Guidebook 7420.10G.

        The Commission’s general ledger, policies and procedures, board meeting minutes for
         January 2012 through August 2017, organization chart, and annual plans.

During our survey, using a random number generator, we selected 10 of 98 households that
received Project-Based Voucher housing assistance and resided at the Creston Plaza
development as of September 18, 2017. We reviewed the first 5 household files, consisting of 16
certifications. Further, during the audit, we randomly selected and reviewed 10 of 83 households
that resided at the Campau Commons development between the conversion date and November
2017. We reviewed 15 certifications for the 10 household files. The results of those reviews are
included in the total errors reported in our finding.5

For the audit phase, we statistically selected a stratified random sample of 85 household months
from a universe of 2,318 monthly RAD subsidy payments to the program participants from
October 2015 through September 2017 (24 months). We used a statistical sample so the audit
results could be projected to the universe. The 85 household months included five certifications
reviewed during the survey. We reviewed an additional 36 certifications for 37 of the 85
household months statistically selected.6

However, due to the low dollar value associated with the certifications that had errors, we
discontinued our review of the Commission’s housing assistance payments calculations.
Therefore, we will not project our results to the universe of 2,318 monthly RAD subsidy
payments to the program participants from October 2015 through September 2017.

The calculation of administrative fees was based on the administrative fees received by the
Commission from HUD and the number of vouchers the Commission reported through HUD’s
Voucher Management System. The fees were considered inappropriately received for each


5
  Of the 67 (16 + 15 + 36) certifications reviewed, we determined that 24 had incorrect housing assistance payment
calculations.
6
  Two of the household months we reviewed were included in the effective months of one certification.

                                                         8
month in which the housing assistance was incorrectly paid. When applicable, we limited the
inappropriate administrative fees to the amounts of the housing assistance payment errors.

We relied in part on data maintained by the Commission in its systems. Although we did not
perform a detailed assessment of the reliability of the data, we performed a minimal level of
testing and found the data to be adequately reliable for our purposes.
We provided our review results and supporting schedules to the Director of HUD’s Detroit
Office of Public Housing and the Commission’s executive director during the audit.
We conducted the audit in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.
Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain sufficient, appropriate
evidence to provide a reasonable basis for our findings and conclusions based on our audit
objective(s). We believe that the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings
and conclusions based on our audit objective.




                                                9
Internal Controls
Internal control is a process adopted by those charged with governance and management,
designed to provide reasonable assurance about the achievement of the organization’s mission,
goals, and objectives with regard to

   effectiveness and efficiency of operations,
   reliability of financial reporting, and
   compliance with applicable laws and regulations.
Internal controls comprise the plans, policies, methods, and procedures used to meet the
organization’s mission, goals, and objectives. Internal controls include the processes and
procedures for planning, organizing, directing, and controlling program operations as well as the
systems for measuring, reporting, and monitoring program performance.
Relevant Internal Controls
We determined that the following internal controls were relevant to our audit objective:

   Effectiveness and efficiency of operations – Policies and procedures that management has
    implemented to reasonably ensure that a program meets its objectives.
   Reliability of financial reporting – Policies and procedures that management has
    implemented to reasonably ensure that valid and reliable data are obtained, maintained, and
    fairly disclosed in reports.
   Compliance with applicable laws and regulations – Policies and procedures that management
    has implemented to reasonably ensure that resource use is consistent with laws and
    regulations.
We assessed the relevant controls identified above.
A deficiency in internal control exists when the design or operation of a control does not allow
management or employees, in the normal course of performing their assigned functions, the
reasonable opportunity to prevent, detect, or correct (1) impairments to effectiveness or
efficiency of operations, (2) misstatements in financial or performance information, or (3)
violations of laws and regulations on a timely basis.
Significant Deficiency
Based on our review, we believe that the following item is a significant deficiency:

   The Commission lacked adequate procedures and controls for its units converted under the
    program to ensure that the housing assistance payments and utility allowances were correctly
    calculated and paid (finding).




                                                  10
Separate Communication of Minor Deficiencies
We informed the Commission’s executive director and the Director of HUD’s Detroit Office of
Public Housing of minor deficiencies in a separate memorandum, dated June 11, 2018.




                                              11
Appendixes

Appendix A


           Schedule of Questioned Costs and Funds To Be Put to Better Use
     Recommendation                                                  Funds to be put
         number              Ineligible 1/      Unsupported 2/       to better use 3/
           1A                    $13,605
             1B                                                              $2,663
             1C                                            $44
             1D                     1,877
             1E                     5,065
             1F                                                                 177
             1G                                                                 263
           Totals                  20,547                   44                3,103


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.
2/   Unsupported costs are those costs charged to a HUD-financed or HUD-insured program
     or activity when we cannot determine eligibility at the time of the audit. Unsupported
     costs require a decision by HUD program officials. This decision, in addition to
     obtaining supporting documentation, might involve a legal interpretation or clarification
     of departmental policies and procedures.
3/   Recommendations that funds be put to better use are estimates of amounts that could be
     used more efficiently if an Office of Inspector General (OIG) recommendation is
     implemented. These amounts include reductions in outlays, deobligation of funds,
     withdrawal of interest, costs not incurred by implementing recommended improvements,
     avoidance of unnecessary expenditures noted in preaward reviews, and any other savings
     that are specifically identified. In this instance, implementing our recommendations will
     ensure that housing assistance payments and utility allowance reimbursements will be
     correctly calculated and paid.


                                              12
Appendix B
             Auditee Comments and OIG’s Evaluation



Ref to OIG
Evaluation    Auditee Comments




Comment 1




Comment 2




                               13
             Auditee Comments and OIG’s Evaluation




Ref to OIG
Evaluation    Auditee Comments




Comment 3




Comment 4




Comment 5


Comment 6




Comment 7




                               14
             Auditee Comments and OIG’s Evaluation




Ref to OIG
Evaluation    Auditee Comments




Comment 8




Comment 9




Comment 10




                               15
                         OIG Evaluation of Auditee Comments


Comment 1   The Commission agreed to reimburse its program from non-Federal funds for the
            $14,203 in overpaid funds and administrative fees due to inappropriate
            calculations. We acknowledge the Commission’s willingness to take corrective
            actions and reimburse its program for the issues cited in this report.

Comment 2   The Commission stated it would reimburse its program from non-Federal funds
            for the $2,663 in underpayments due to inappropriate calculation errors.
            However, the recommendation is to reimburse the appropriate households $2,663
            from non-Federal funds for the underpayment of housing assistance and utility
            allowances.

Comment 3   The Commission stated it would reimburse its program from non-Federal funds
            for the $44 in unsupported payments. However, the recommendation is to support
            or reimburse the appropriate households $44 from non-Federal funds for the
            unsupported payments of housing assistance.

Comment 4   The Commission provided 3 exhibits which consisted of 14 pages of
            documentation along with its response. The exhibits included the missing
            eligibility documentation. Based on the supporting documentation provided, we
            updated the report and removed the recommendation 1D of the discussion draft
            audit report regarding supporting or reimbursing the Commission’s program
            $21,298 from non-Federal funds for the housing assistance paid for the
            certifications with missing eligibility documentation. Because the exhibits were
            not necessary to understand the Commission’s comments, we did not include the
            documentation in this report.

Comment 5   The Commission agreed to collect the funds from the appropriate households for
            the $1,877 in overpayment of housing assistance due to unreported income. We
            acknowledge the Commission’s willingness to take corrective actions and pursue
            collection for the overpayment of housing assistance.

Comment 6   The Commission agreed to collect the funds from the appropriate projects for the
            $5,065 in overpayment of housing assistance. We acknowledge the
            Commission’s willingness to take corrective actions and pursue collection for the
            overpayment of housing assistance.

Comment 7   The Commission agreed to reimburse the appropriate projects $177 in underpaid
            housing assistance. We acknowledge the Commission’s willingness to take
            corrective actions and reimburse the appropriate projects for the underpayment of
            housing assistance.




                                             16
Comment 8     The Commission agreed to reimburse the appropriate households $263 in
              underpaid utility allowance reimbursements. We acknowledge the Commission’s
              willingness to take corrective actions and reimburse the appropriate households
              for the underpayment of utility allowance reimbursements.

Comment 9     The Commission agreed to review the payments for all certifications completed
              between December 2016 and February 2017 for the remaining Housing Choice
              Voucher and Project-Based Voucher program participants to ensure the
              adjustments were appropriately paid. We acknowledge the Commission’s
              willingness to take corrective actions to address the issues cited in this audit
              report. The Commission should work with HUD on the resolution of the
              recommendation.

Comment 10 The Commission agreed with the recommendation and stated that it is working to
           implement adequate quality control procedures. We acknowledge the
           Commission’s willingness to take corrective actions for the findings cited in this
           audit report. The Commission should work with HUD on the resolution of the
           recommendations to ensure that the updated policies are appropriate,
           implemented, and fully address the deficiencies cited in this report.




                                               17
Appendix C
                         Federal and the Commission’s Requirements

HUD’s regulations at 24 CFR 5.240(c) state that the responsible entity must verify the accuracy
of the income information received from the family and change the amount of the total tenant
payment, tenant rent, or program housing assistance payment or terminate assistance, as
appropriate, based on such information.

HUD’s regulations at 24 CFR 5.510(a) state that a responsible entity should request and review
original documents or eligible immigration status. The responsible entity should retain
photocopies of the documents for its own records and return the original documents to the
family.

HUD’s regulations at 24 CFR 5.512(c) state that primary verification of the immigration status
of the person is conducted by the responsible entity through the Immigration and Naturalization
Service’s Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements system.

HUD’s regulations at 24 CFR 982.152(d) state that HUD may reduce or offset any
administrative fee to the public housing agency, in the amount determined by HUD, if the
agency fails to perform agency administrative responsibilities correctly or adequately under the
program.
HUD’s Public and Indian Housing (PIH) Notice 2012-32, Revision 1, appendix IV, states that to
implement RAD, four new codes to be used with data submitted on form HUD-50058 have been
created to ensure proper monitoring and reporting. More specifically, the four new codes will
allow HUD to track the Project-Based Voucher component of RAD. These codes must be
entered into line 2n of the form HUD-50058 in accordance with PIH Notice 2011-065. For RAD
from public housing, the code is RADPH.
HUD’s Housing Choice Voucher Guidebook 7420.10G, exhibit 5-5, lists the acceptable sources
for verification of family composition to include income tax returns, school records, marriage
certificates, birth certificates, divorce actions, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs records, and
support payment records.
Section 13.1 of the Commission’s Admissions and Continued Assistance Policy for Campau
Commons states that the family will pay the greater of the total tenant payment or the minimum
rent of $50.




                                                  18