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Indianapolis Housing Agency independent audit shows more than $1 million due in bills

Posted at 9:20 PM, Jul 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-28 16:22:02-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Bills are piling up at the Indianapolis Housing Agency.

"Right now. It's tough making payroll here," said Interim Executive Director Marcia Lewis. "We owe $1,081,000 in payables to various vendors and contractors.”

An independent financial audit shows IHA also has $19 million in long-term debt.

In 2021, the total revenue was $90.7 million. The total operating expenses: $92.7 million. That's a $2 million dollar loss.

It's nearly the same story for 2020 and now Lewis says the agency can't keep up.

“So basically, when residents ask me ‘how did we get here?’ The simple answer is the agency overspent money, year after year?" asked WRTV's Rachael Wilkerson.

"Yes," said Lewis.

The financial instability is frustrating for residents, who say they've been neglected for years, with a lack of maintenance workers, trash pickup and insufficient funds for resident services.

WRTV Investigates found in some cases, money that was supposed to be used for residents, was mishandled and used for payroll and more.

A section of the audit breaks down how the agency "did not comply with requirements" regarding the Housing Voucher Cluster.

"There were there funds used for other programs here, that should only have been used for things associated with the voucher program," Lewis said.

Lewis said the bottom line is the agency is spending more money than what's coming in.

On Wednesday, IHA put Millikan on Mass up for sale in hopes by selling the commercial property, it can get its bank account stable.

“It’s no different than anybody's personal checkbook,” Lewis said. “If you pay out more than you bring in, eventually you will be in the hole. And that's what's happened here.”

Lewis says 13 out of the agency's 16 properties could also go up for sale.

It would leave the housing agency responsible for Barton towers, Barton Annex and Concord.

“Millikan alone should allow us to pay off the debt, but the other properties if they achieve the kinds of possible revenue, that we're hoping will create a savings and will create a reserve that will create a long-term reserve so that we will not be in this position again," Lewis said.

If that happens residents will not be displaced, according to Lewis. Rent will still be for low-income residents. Management is the only thing that changes.

“People can just see that we're trying to do our best to improve the way in which the properties are maintained, managed and the quality of life that we have some hand and providing for the people who live in these communities. They deserve it. And we're trying to make sure that that happens,” said Lewis.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development hasn't released its financial report on the agency.

In the meantime, IHA has released it's moving forward plan.

Temporary maintenance workers hired earlier this month by the mayor's office, have made significant improvements in cleaning up IHA properties.

Thousands of work orders still need to be filled. They will remain on the job for 10 months.

To help combat the rodent problem at multiple complexes, feral cats are now being used.

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