I-TEAM: Why is Aiken Housing continuing to provide staff and maintenance despite cease and desist from HUD?

Published: Nov. 6, 2019 at 5:02 PM EST
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Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019

News 12 at 6 O'Clock/NBC at 7

AIKEN, SC (WRDW/WAGT) -- The Department of Housing and Urban Development is allowing Aiken Housing Authority to provide staff and maintenance to a non-profit group despite an order to cease and desist their cost sharing agreement.

This comes after the I-Team exposed the authority's financial troubles with more than $1.1 million in question.

The money in question comes from a partnership between AHA and the non-profit, CDIC. Both were run by the former AHA director up until last year. HUD has opened an investigation yet the agency still allows both organizations in question to work together.

A letter from HUD to AHA this March says the two agencies must immediately end its cost sharing agreement. This is how the agreement worked before the cease and desist order.

HUD gives tax dollars to AHA, who uses the money for maintenance at the public housing complexes. Federal dollars also fund the Section 8 voucher program.

Community Development and Improvement Corporation, CDIC, is a non-profit organization. It provides private, Section 8 housing for low-income families in Aiken County. In return, AHA maintains and manages it.

Why did HUD order the two to end its partnership? HUD writes, "not only did AHA fail to require full reimbursement from the CDIC, but AHA allowed these expenses to accumulate to an alarming level, which now exceeds $1.1 million."

Reggie Barner served as the CEO of AHA for 20 years. He also served as the CDIC CEO during that time. His name is on most of CDIC-owned properties.

“What we are trying to focus on now is selling off some of the assets so we can back the internal -- so have an internal fund we owe back to the housing authority for staff costs and maintenance,” Barner said.

HUD gave AHA a deadline to come up with a repayment plan for the $1.1 million. That deadline has come and gone.

Not only has CDIC not paid back the money to AHA, but CDIC is still using their employees and resources to maintain its private properties.

Our camera caught an AHA maintenance employee working at a CDIC property on Monday. We asked HUD if their cost sharing agreement resumed. They told us "HUD instructions have been specific to cease and desist their cost sharing agreement."

But HUD also told us: since there is no cost sharing agreement, both organizations are paying the workers directly, based on their time allocation. Workers receive separate checks from the two entities: one check comes from AHA for work performed at the housing authority; a second check comes from CDIC for work performed on those properties. This separate method of payment is acceptable.

HUD’s investigation into $1.1 million is still open. The order to cease and desist the AHA and CDIC partnership is still in effect yet the federal government is still allowing our tax dollars to be used to maintain CDIC's private property.

The board which overseas AHA recently rejected the current director's proposed budget. The board expressed some serious concerns after a closed door meeting.

Copyright 2019 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved.

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