Metro Nashville officials are doing a less than stellar job monitoring the city’s affordable housing fund, according to a new internal audit.
Members of a seven-member commission overseeing the money, among other things, don’t follow proper policies and procedures, don’t have clear enough goals and objectives, and aren’t cautious about potential conflicts of interest, internal auditors wrote.
City officials created this Metropolitan Housing Trust Fund Commission in 2013 to help provide affordable housing.
Commission members established what’s known as the Barnes Fund to finance new affordable housing units or to rehabilitate existing ones.
As of 2019, commission members have awarded $27 million to 17 non-profit groups, according to the audit.
Auditors reported the following problems:
• The Commission cannot demonstrate it operates the Barnes Fund in compliance with the Housing Trust Fund Policies and Procedures.
• Measures to monitor overall Barnes Fund program success are not defined.
• Grant application process documentation was not consistently available.
• Formal controls to identify potential conflicts of interest did not exist.
• Monitoring for compliance with tenant income and landlord rental rate thresholds is not conducted.
• Program progress and performance reports, as detailed within the Housing Trust Fund Policies and Procedures, are not generated.
• Reports that are generated often contain inaccurate information.
• The fair market value of Metropolitan Nashville Government donated land is not reported.
As the audit went on to say, the Metropolitan Nashville Government enters contractual agreements to provide financial assistance with various nonprofits. Grantees agree to build a certain quantity of affordable housing units or rehabilitate existing affordable housing units.
“Grant funding priority is given based upon location, with proximity to a major transit corridor as well as developments located within moderate to high-income areas receiving preference,” according to the audit.
“Additional preference is given to rental housing units dedicated to special needs populations earning between 0-30 percent of area median income. Special needs populations are defined to include the elderly, those with disabilities, and military veterans, as well as the mentally ill, ex-convicts, drug addicts, domestic/sexual abuse-victims, homeless, and new American citizens,” it stated.
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