May 6, 2005
HUD SUSPENDS, PROPOSES TO DEBAR INDIVIDUALS INVOLVED IN NEW HAVEN PUBLIC HOUSING INSPECTION VIOLATION
WASHINGTON - The Department of Housing and Urban Development has suspended and is proposing to debar three individuals who had roles in violating HUD rules regarding the inspection of New Haven's public housing units. Their actions resulted in inaccurate inspections of public housing units in the Housing Authority of the City of New Haven's (HANH) inventory.
"The Department intends to take any steps necessary to protect residents and the integrity of HUD programs," said General Deputy Assistant Secretary Paula Blunt.
HUD issued letters this week to HANH Executive Director Cynthia Newton, HANH Deputy Executive Director Edward Schwartz and independent contractor James Hanley informing them that under their suspensions they were immediately prohibited from participating in federal programs, pending the outcome of their debarment. If the proposed debarment is made final, they would be prohibited from doing new business with the federal government or federal funding recipients, including public housing authorities for a period of three years.
The suspensions and proposed debarments are the result of actions that resulted in an inaccurate assessment of the physical condition of public housing units in HANH's inventory. Annually HUD hires contractors to conduct on-site inspection of a sampling of a housing authority's units to ensure they are safe and sanitary. These random inspections are supposed to be done without prior notice to the PHA. The inspections are part of HUD's Public Housing Assessment System (PHAS), the assessment tool HUD uses to rate public housing authority performance. Housing authorities receive scores based on four performance indicators - financial, management, physical condition and resident satisfaction. The inspections at HANH were conducted in December 2004 and January 2005.
HUD determined that Hanley allowed HANH employees to access a confidential listing of HANH units slated for inspection. Having this data in advance enabled HAHN to make repairs to those units prior to inspection. Newton and Schwartz were aware of, and permitted, the HANH staff to access this confidential information. Newton and Schwartz have since resigned from HANH. Newton, Schwartz and Hanley have 30 days to oppose the proposed debarment. There will be similar actions brought against others involved in these actions in the near future.
HUD is the nation's housing agency committed to increasing homeownership, particularly among minorities; creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans; and supporting the homeless, elderly, people with disabilities and people living with AIDS. The Department also promotes economic and community development as well as enforces the nation's fair housing laws. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet and espanol.hud.gov.