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A two-part performance audit of the San Diego Housing Commission revealed delays and inconsistencies that could compromise the agency’s ability to effectively serve its mission to bridge the gap between the high cost of local housing and the wages earned by local workers, according to City Auditor Eduardo Luna.

Part one focuses on the operation of the agency, and part two on the city’s affordable housing fund

I’m still reading part two, but here are a few of the audit’s key findings from part one:

  • CEO pay outside of agency range: Because the CEO is hired by and reports to the agency board and the Housing Authority, those two bodies decide on CEO compensation. The CEO’s current compensation is outside of the agency range, but was approved last year anyway, “due to the superior professional qualifications and experience held by the candidate,” as deemed by the board and the authority, the audit said.
  • “Excessive time delays” between the time an item is approved by the commission’s board and when that item is voted on by the city Housing Authority. For 41 items between July 2007 and December 2008, 11 of them took more than 60 days to get to the Housing Authority. Once those items get to the Housing Authority, that body approved the vast majority of them unanimously. Here’s the auditor:

    The lack of timely approvals increases the risk of missed business opportunities for SDHC. Inefficient evaluation processes, the lack of an audit trail, and difficulty in performing supervisory monitoring and review are other potential effects of delayed approvals.

  • Delays and inconsistencies in filling open board seats.
  • Inadequate succession plans for when executives retire or take other jobs.
  • No apparent sign whether the commission can expect to be repaid $2 million that the city allocated out of Housing Commission funds in 2003 to assist with the transformation of the De Anza Harbor Resort from a residential area back to a park. The auditor:

    Neither the City nor SDHC has properly managed, communicated or otherwise assessed the status of these funds and the expectations for repayment to SDHC, if applicable. Furthermore, SDHC does not appear to have taken any significant legal or administrative steps to determine whether the City will be repaying these funds.

  • Executive compensation is not always compliant with agency policies; auto allowances inconsistent with city policies; performance evaluation criteria inconsistently applied; personnel records could be better organized
  • CDBG issues: The commission submitted “incomplete and inaccurate” documents to be reimbursed for costs related to the Community Development Block Grant program. But, the auditor said, the process for doing that wasn’t clearly defined. The commission is owed $1.9 million from the city for CDBG-related expenses — but the city’s legal obligation to reimburse the commission is removed because the commission has not finalized agreements for fiscal years 2008 and 2009. The auditor:

    The noted delays are a result of ongoing negotiations, in part due to poorly defined and unclear reporting, communication and roles and responsibilities between SDHC and the City.

  • Potential delays in the commission’s requirement to build 350 affordable units as part of its acclaimed switch from public housing to normal rental units accessible to tenants using the Section 8 program. The auditor also noted some data entry inconsistencies when signing former public housing tenants up for Section 8.

The Housing Commission responded to the audit, pledging to implement changes and fixes to many recommendations within the next year. Upon seeing the audit, the commission already changed its policies to bring its auto allowances into compliance.

The PDF contains responses to the audit from the commission and the city’s COO, Jay Goldstone.

I’ll have more on part two soon.

KELLY BENNETT

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