November 13, 2009
Federal housing authorities are threatening to withhold from the District of Columbia $12.2 million in assistance for people with HIV/AIDS next year unless city health officials comply with requests for improved oversight.
In a recent series of reports, the Washington Post found the District's HIV/AIDS Administration (HAA) paid more than $25 million to non-profit groups that provided inadequate care or documentation of services provided. Many cited were housing groups given US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grants.
"It is absolutely unacceptable that any single person suffers as a result of the District not being able to manage taxpayer dollars," said Mercedes M. Márquez, HUD's assistant secretary. "This is where they pushed it to: No new money until you fix this."
At least since 2003, HUD monitoring reports have found the District has failed to provide strong oversight of non-profit groups providing housing. In 2008, the city had to return more than $600,000 in AIDS housing funds because it had not resolved problems that HUD monitors documented in 2003 and 2006. While HUD has since noted improvements in client care and housing, accountability still is lacking, the agency said.
HUD's 2009 monitoring found the city did not submit basic accounting records for non-profits, and it has since provided only a partial response to the records and accountability concerns, said housing officials. HAA must comply with HUD's requests, or next year's grants to provide housing for city residents with AIDS will be frozen, Márquez said.