HUD: Ypsilanti at risk of losing entire public housing program
More from this meeting: Ypsilanti City Council requests immediate resignation of remaining housing commissioners
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development officials have warned that Ypsilanti may lose its entire public housing program, Mayor Paul Schreiber said.
The warning comes weeks after HUD said the Ypsilanti Housing Commission's Section 8 Voucher Program was facing a $228,407 shortfall due to mismanagement and improper financial reporting practices.
Jeffrey Smith | AnnArbor.com
“We’ve already lost the Section 8 program and one option is to pull the public housing program and I think up until this point the city council has not been cooperative with HUD,” Schreiber said during a special Friday council meeting.
“(Council) has refused to put a resident commissioner on the board and refused to endorse the recovery plan. I think they’re looking for us to start cooperating with HUD and I am willing to do that.”
Schreiber declined to provide further details regarding possible options outlined by HUD but insisted that residents would not be affected by any changes decided in the near future.
“What we’re talking about today does not in any way jeopardize families in public housing or section 8,” he said. “It’s going to determine whether the city of Ypsilanti has a housing commission where we have a partnership with HUD and HUD spends federal dollars in Ypsilanti.”
Schreiber said if council refused to cooperate, the city will no longer have any say in public housing.
“They spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and we spend $0 and yet we are given some control and say,” he said.
Schreiber urged council members to pass the recovery plan that outlines several changes HUD believes need to be made in order for the program to remain sustainable as well as in control of the YHC.
HUD said the YHC has often been non-responsive to the department's request for information and the executive director does not provide adequate oversight of the commission.
The plan describes the results following HUD's review and assessment of the YHC, the measures that need to be implemented to improve performance and the desired outcomes to be achieved and establishes a timetable to achieve those outcomes. The plan identifies the "available remedies" to correct the commission's issues.
Council members voted 6-1 against the recovery plan — Schreiber was the only yes vote.
Several council members said they voted against the plan because they received an updated version at the “last minute.”
“The recovery plan we received in our packet was not the same one we received at 4 p.m. yesterday afternoon,” Council Member Pete Murdock said. “I wanted to see this twelve hours ago, that’s my primary objection.”
Murdock told Schreiber he should have taken more responsibility in regards to the YHC.
“You’re responsible for this and haven’t done so for over a year,” Murdock said to Schreiber. “You have continued to protect the people that have brought that housing authority down."
Jeffrey Smith | AnnArbor.com
“You’ve continued to want to put the same people back that got us here in the first place,” Murdock continued. “I’m not going with that. There are other options to go with and I’d like to hear what those are.”
Schreiber said HUD Director of the Office of Public Housing Willie Garret has approved the recovery plan and was expecting council to do the same.
“I know Mr. Garret was very eager to have the recovery plan approved so I don’t know how he will interpret this,” Schreiber told AnnArbor.com.
Council Member Brian Robb said he voted against the plan because he believed it was missing several key components— including details about the missing funds.
“It throws all the stuff out about the missing money,” Robb said. “We need people who understand finance. That is what has been stripped If it’s not going to attack the big root problem then this is a joke.”
Robb said the plan also omits any mention of an audit. YHC Interim Director Eric Temple said during council's Aug. 14 meeting that he would have an audit done.
Schreiber said although information regarding the audit was not included, the YHC has since hired an outside company to administer the audit, which is going on right now.
Robb said he wants to see a full audit of the Section 8 program included in the plan.
“If they fail again on this what do we do?” Robb said. “This makes no sense at all.”
Mayor Pro Tem Lois Richardson, along with the other council members, said they understand a recovery plan must be approved but they need ample time to review it.
“I would recommend that council takes this recovery plan and we each take time to go through it and make the changes that need to be made,” Richardson said.
“It would not only be a sad day but a shameful day to lose our public housing program Just to see it go by the wayside, I would certainly hold my head in shame.”
HUD officials informed the city the plan must be approved before Sept. 19 and city council has a scheduled Sept.18 meeting. Another vote will take place during that meeting or council may decide to meet earlier on a different date. Click here to see the recovery plan.