IHA failed to manage family program involving $1.7 million

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Posted at 11:28 PM, Jan 10, 2019

INDIANAPOLIS — A federal review is raising concerns about $1.7 million that they say the Indianapolis Housing Agency took from tenants and apparently spent. The government is asking for the documentation to show the money trail.

Lovely Hankston is among the lucky ones. She enrolled in a program called Family Self Sufficiency, or FSS, through the Indianapolis Housing Agency.

"I signed up for escrow program to help better my family."

It let her save money in an escrow that she could use to buy a home or start a small business. She did receive a check for $13,386 for participating in a program meant to help residents buy a home and break from government assistance. The national program was started in 1990.

A federal review team from the Indianapolis office of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development found that “IHA failed to properly execute the program” by taking the money of at least 20 IHA families without any notice between January 2014 and April 2018.

The critical report Call 6 obtained, was issued to IHA on August 27 recommending IHA set aside $1.7 million, contact all the clients kicked off the program without any right to appeal, and determine what went wrong.

Hankston hopes she's not owed any more money, and trusted that this would not happen to families trying to do better for themselves and their children.

"I would want them to be honest. I feel they should give us the same respect back and do the right thing."

RTV6 reached out to IHA via email Tuesday. We made the organization aware that we had the federal review and asked the agency to explain and defend the purchase of the gift cards.

We received a nine word statement which reads: “We have no response for you at this time.”

The critical report detailing the FSS program was delivered to IHA one day before former executive director Bud Myers announced his retirement on August 28th. He officially left the agency on August 31st.

We were unable to reach for Myers for comment on the review.

The Mayor of Indianapolis Joe Hogsett is in the middle of national search to find a new executive director and a chief financial officer. The Mayor will also get a chance to appoint new members to the IHA board which oversees IHA.

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