in Houston, Texas
Port Arthur Housing Authority violated competitive bidding, other stimulus rules, must return $725K federal stimulus grant
Monday, Jan 31, 2011, 01:17PM CST
By Mark Lisheron
money chain

The housing authority in Port Arthur will lose the balance of a $725,546 federal stimulus grant for its mishandling of two low-income development projects.
 
In a report issued late last week, Gerald R. Kirkland, regional inspector general for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in Fort Worth, is asking that the Housing Authority return $67,640 the authority already spent on the project.

Kirkland's report criticized the Housing Authority for planning to use the American Recovery and Reinvestment grant for a development at the city's Carver Terrace public housing development in conjunction with federal disaster recovery funds that were not available. The authority changed direction and committed the stimulus funding to build a learning center at the Gulfbreeze Place public housing development.

According to the report, the Housing Authority failed to practice sound financial controls, violated procurement regulations, failed to meet stimulus reporting requirements and failed to get environmental clearance before beginning site work.

Cele Quesada, executive director of the Port Authority, disagreed with nearly every conclusion in the report in a vigorously argued response included in the inspector general's report. Quesada told Texas Watchdog today that while he continued to disagree, there appeared to be no recourse but to repay the money spent and give up the grant.

Quesada estimated the grant represented less than five percent of the federal funding the authority receives for its projects. However, he seemed stung by what he said was the first punishment of its kind handed down to his agency by HUD in his seven years as its executive director.

"There does appear to be some finality on their part and on my part, too," Quesada said. "I remain at odds with their description of our performance. All we have been trying to do is a good job, a prudent job, and we will continue to do our utmost to do a good job."
 
 

Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or mark@texaswatchdog.org.


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Photo of a money chain by flickr user origami_potato, used via a Creative Commons license.  

Comments
Shana
Sunday, 06/10/2012 - 02:05PM

there is much more to this story in the Examiner paper Quesada spent taxpayer money on Christmas gifts, party supplies, a rental car, Jason's deli, Holiday Inn, edible arrangements, $4,135 went to the Woodlands Conference Center... with that money these homeless people could have had a fema trailer when they were selling them dirt cheap... the housing authority also built a learning center and an indoor basketball court... now in my opinion they should buy some beds and move homeless people into the basketball area... Why is the Housing Authority building a learning center what does that have to do with housing? There are more than 500 people on the list for housing in Port Arthur, people waiting for help and now I know why they aren't getting it..

Shana
Sunday, 06/10/2012 - 02:10PM

how can ya'll click on like??? I don't like this... Typical politics corruption misappropriation of funds and lies... Housing Authority builds indoor basketball court and learning center... Why is it called HOUSING AUTHORITY??????

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