We audited the St. Charles Parish Housing Authority based upon our regional risk analysis and as part of our annual audit plan to review public housing agencies’ operations. Our objective was to determine whether the Authority operated its Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program in accordance with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD’s) requirements and its administrative plan.
The Authority did not operate its program in accordance with HUD’s requirements. Specifically, it (1) did not ensure that housing assistance and utility reimbursement payments were eligible and supported, (2) did not maintain adequate documentation to support subsidy payments, and (3) did not review its utility allowance standards annually. In addition, it did not enforce HUD’s housing quality standards. These conditions occurred because the Authority (1) lacked adequate written procedures and controls, (2) failed to exercise proper supervision and oversight, and (3) did not ensure that it adequately trained its staff on program requirements and systems.
As a result, the Authority made $16,350 in ineligible overpayments and $1,325 in underpayments, paid $18,391 for properties that did not meet HUD’s housing quality standards and could not support $570,834 of housing assistance and utility reimbursement payments. These errors also caused an underutilization of the Authority’s vouchers, preventing it from using program funds to better serve program participants and provide assistance to households on its waiting list. Additionally, the Authority may have placed an undue burden on participants for increased utility costs and could not provide reasonable assurance that it used HUD funds effectively and efficiently or to fully benefit program participants. Lastly, the Authority subjected program participants to substandard living conditions for those units not in compliance with HUD’s housing quality standards.
Our recommendations include requiring the Authority to (1) repay $34,741 from non-Federal funds, (2) support or repay $570,834 from non-Federal funds, and (3) implement controls and procedures and train staff. Additionally, the Director of HUD’s New Orleans Office of Public Housing should (1) adjust the Authority’s Section 8 Management Assessment Program scores and (2) consider new management strategies to improve the Authority’s operations to ensure that program funds are better used to assist the Authority’s program participants and households on the waiting list.