HUD finds 18 violations at Moline Housing Authority office

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Federal housing investigators spent a week at the Moline Housing Authority headquarters in January, and found 18 violations of federal rules and regulations during their review.

The findings now released in a confidential report obtained by WQAD-TV. The report cites violations ranging from errors in calculating rent, insufficient internal controls, problems with the waiting list for public housing applicants, and general lack of oversight.

''The Authority's internal control procedures are insufficient. Invoices reviewed lack sufficient documentation for payment and were not marked paid'', reads the report. ''There is a possibility an invoice may inadvertently be paid more than once''.

In its review of the waiting list and admission policy for public housing applicants, HUD  said the MHA is ''not following its waiting list policy'', writing that ''the Executive Director has direct oversight iin selecting each applicant from the waiting list. This clearly gives the appearance of granting favors and giving preferential treatment to friends and relatives. MHA has a master watiing list which it does not follow''.

The Moline Housiing Authority's previous director Theresa Meegan was charged in federal court for breaking proper procedures regarding waiting lists.

HUD also cited the Housing Authority for not preparing an anuual operating budget for its Section 8 program for the fiscal years 2011 and 2012.

It is also requiring that the Housing Authority return more than $985,000 in grant money to the U.S Treasury, because the funds were not used in ''conformance with the specific requirements'' of the federal grant.

Moline Housing Authority Director John Afoun downplayed the report and its 18 violations, calling them oversights that will and can be corrected.

''There was no serious fraud. HUD commended us for that when they came and did the management review. No serious fraud whatsoever'', Afoun said Thursday in an interview with WQAD.

''The taxpayers do not have any concerns. The Housing Authority is iin good hands'', Afoun said.

Former Housing Authority Board Chairman Dan Adams disagrees. He says the report signals a bigger problem.

''Does it (the report) say they're technicalities? He's saying they are technicalities. Any finding HUD has is serious. 18 is really out of the norm'', said Adams, who was not re-appointed by the Mayor after more than 20 years on the Housing Authority Board. ''18 violations is high. Really unusual.''

Current Housing Authority Board Chairman Melvin Grimes says HUD was looking for irregularities and weaknesses in the way the Authority is managed, but echoed Afoun's take on the report.

''There was no fraud, no mis-management of funds. We just need to tighten things up'', Grimes said.