Mishandled housing program could cost Dallas $1.3M

DALLAS — Federal auditors want Dallas officials to repay $1.3 million in federal funds for mishandling a program meant to renovate dilapidated houses for low-income homeowners, according to a report.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Inspector General released a report this week examining more than a dozen homes remodeled by Dry Quick Restoration, The Dallas Morning News reported . The report found the homes had defective workmanship and long construction delays.

“The delays caused a hardship for the homeowners that the program was designed to help,” the report said. The homes were meant to help families making $25,000 or less annually.

The report criticized the city for general mismanagement and not properly vetting the company’s experience and financial situation when issuing contracts in 2015.

A March newspaper investigation found the company’s owner, Kenneth Williams, has ties with local housing official Carl Wagner, who helped manage the mishandled program. Wagner is now suspended pending an internal probe.

The city said it’s working with federal officials to address the issues.

“We recognize the issues with our prior administration of the program and have already begun to address many of these findings and have developed more rigorous internal controls to ensure a higher level of accountability,” the city said in a statement.

Dallas shouldn’t have to repay the funds because the money went into the homes, said T.C. Broadnax, the city manager.

“While mistakes were made, construction was delayed, and documentation was deficient, the $1,322,617 expended on the homes were invested in the labor and materials used to construct the homes where the homeowners reside today,” Broadnax said in a letter to federal officials.

The city plans to hire an engineer to examine the homes, as well as a contractor to make repairs, Broadnax said.

Dry Quick declined to comment. Wagner couldn’t be reached for comment.

Information from: The Dallas Morning News, http://www.dallasnews.com

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