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Auditor General: PA Department of Community Development Left Homeless ‘Out In The Cold’

The state auditor general said Wednesday that the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) delayed the distribution of funding for two federal programs that would have helped homeless individuals and families.

State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said that a performance audit of the DCED found that it did not distribute funds in a “timely manner” from $5 million in Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) and $15 million from the HOME Investment Partnership Program, which both offer financial assistance for housing homeless and displaced individuals.

“We found major flaws that need to be addressed, and they needed to be addressed very quickly, especially with the winter coming up,” DePasquale said.

DePasquale said there was no on-site monitoring conducted for one-third of ESG contracts, which could be used to build shelters for the homeless, provide housing and prevention of homelessness. Nor was there on-site monitoring for 75 percent of HOME grantees — which increases the risk that funds “would not be used to alleviate homelessness.” The HOME program helps with non-public housing and assistance to homebuyers.

He said the homeless in rural areas have been hit especially hard as money they could have received was never allocated to those areas.

“This audit shows [that] people are literally being left out in the cold in rural Pennsylvania because of a lack of effective program maintenance at [DCED],” DePasquale said. “When [DCED] were sending the money out, they weren’t even making sure that their money was being properly spent.”

DePasquale said he has sent a list of changes he would like to see the DCED enact.

“We’ve put together 34 recommendations, and I will concede that a lot of this … can be summed up with ‘do your job,’” he said.

DePasquale said that DCED Secretary Dennis Davin was cooperative during the audit and that the DCED has agreed with the Auditor General’s findings.

“They have pledged to completely turn this around,” DePasquale said.