published Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

Audit finds improved Chattanooga Housing Authority finances

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• What: Chattanooga Housing Authority will host its grand opening celebration for Fairmount Avenue Townhomes

• When: 10 a.m. today

• Where: 1311 Fairmount Ave. in North Chattanooga

Chattanooga Housing Authority's financial health is looking up, according to an independent audit conducted by the Indiana-based McCauley Nicolas CPAs & Advisors.

The big news is CHA was removed from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's troubled housing agency list in November 2011, said John Pieper, who presented the report to CHA board members Tuesday.

Being removed from the troubled housing list puts the housing agency in better position to be awarded federal grant funding, CHA officials said.

"The organization is certainly stronger today than it was the year before," said Pieper, a CPA with the audit firm.

"We've come a long way," said Eddie Holmes, who CHA board members elected to a third year as board chairman on Tuesday. "Our staff has worked hard to take care of expenditures and make sure we stay within our budget."

The audit reported that total assets increased about $4 million from almost $94 million in 2010 to almost $98 million in 2011.

And the amount the agency paid out in Housing Choice Voucher payments to landlords increased from $15.7 million in 2010 to $18.4 million in 2011.

Pieper noted the group's internal system for overseeing the housing authority's finances was now sufficient while it had not been in previous years.

However, Pieper advised that CHA still had room for improvement with its housing choice voucher waiting list and low-income housing rent calculations.

Some public housing applicants were not added to the waiting list according to their proper preferences. Auditors also sampled public housing tenant files. Of 60 files, three of them had income figures used to determine a tenant's rent, but the income figures did not match the supporting documentation in the files. And people representing four files did not complete their community services.

Auditors also found a significant deficiency in the amount the CHA got in federal awards.

The auditors said CHA's management already has new software to ensure housing residents are properly placed on the waiting list.

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about Yolanda Putman...

Yolanda Putman has been a reporter at the Times Free Press for 11 years. She covers housing and previously covered education and crime. Yolanda is a Chattanooga native who has a master’s degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Alabama State University. She previously worked at the Lima (Ohio) News. She enjoys running, reading and writing and is the mother of one son, Tyreese. She has also ...

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