Some Want More Explanation after Audit of Cville Public Housing - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Some Want More Explanation after Audit of Cville Public Housing

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An audit of Charlottesville's public housing revealed spending and collections problems and included a very open questioning of former mayor Dave Norris
(for Norris' response, read below)

Days later, people are growing frustrated with a lack of communication from the Department of Housing and Urban Development in Washington about those criticisms.

Everyone is united by a single goal: make public housing in the city better and more efficient. But some Charlottesville public housing leaders question HUD's review, and are waiting on the agency for answers.

"I think we're all frustrated, and we're sort of left wondering, well what is going on here and what is HUD doing?" said Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority commissioner Bob Stevens.

Stevens is talking about the veritable laundry list of issues HUD says plagues the CRHA.

"You know they just said you have to do these things, they didn't really say why in a lot of instances," Stevens said.

He wants HUD to explain its findings - things like raising the minimum rent and reforming eviction and rent collection policies. 

"We need to have them come explain to our residents why some of these things need to change," Stevens said.

A public meeting scheduled for Monday was canceled and private meetings later this week didn't happen.

"I think it's no doubt that the meetings are going to occur and need to occur," said HUD spokesman Jerry Brown.

Brown says sequester cuts have the agency cutting down across the board, including travel expenses to Charlottesville.

"That's simply because every line item at HUD has taken a five percent cut," Brown said.

Despite some commissioners' wishes, HUD has no plans for public meetings.

"It's not an open forum for everyone to discuss the failings of the housing authority. There's another place and another time for that," Brown said. 

Commissioners have until the end of this month to respond to HUD's findings with their own plans. As the clock ticks down, Stevens says the ball's in HUD's court.

"I have no idea what's next. I think that's up to HUD," Stevens said.

HUD says it is ready to work with the city's housing authority.

The housing authority review also raised some questions about a potential conflict of interest centered around former mayor Dave Norris.

As chair of the housing authority board, Norris received approximately $9,000 in payment from the public housing association of residents, or PHAR.

In its response to HUD's inquiry, PHAR said it paid Norris for administrative consulting during parts of 2012.

Norris denies any issue, saying his involvement with PHAR is well known and documented.

"It would have been better if I had been explicit about, during those few months, because apparently other board members didn't know about the fact that I was doing consulting work for PHAR," said Norris. "It sort of fueled the notion that I had something to hide."

Norris says all of his involvement with the group was legally disclosed, and says his payment from PHAR did not come from housing authority or city funds.

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