The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development blasts the Hoboken Housing Authority for several deficiencies during a limited review that could drop its status to â€œtroubledâ€ this fall.
by Sarah Introna/ Hudson County View
The reportÂ criticized the authorityâ€™s procurement process, lack of record keeping, and the spending of nearly $3 million in â€œunjustified non-competitive procurementâ€ dropping it immediately to â€œzero dollar threshold” status.
This threshold is Â given to low-income housing assistance programs and those accepting funding from programs like capital fund grants must get HUD approval before moving forward with any services or payments.
Conducted during the week of July 28th by HUDâ€™s New Jersey public housing office, the report said HHA â€œlacks systematic and organized records keeping for all aspects of maintenance operation, including work orders, unit turnaround, preventative maintenance and annual inspection.â€
Hoboken Housing Authority Chair Dana Wefer blames some of these oversights to a lack of funds. She adds these â€œproblems are hugeâ€ – but fixable – although it wonâ€™t be overnight.
Among its findings, they discovered the authority continued to use the emergency service method of procurement left over from Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
Once the electricity was fixed and cleanup over, they did Â not return to a bidding method but continued to use vendors like LandTek Group, Inc and Haddad Electric paying them more than $500,000 each exceeding the stateâ€™s bid threshold limit of $17,500.
â€œEven after 18 months later,â€ the review stated, â€œHHA have been using these same contractors on an as needed basis by way of purchase orders. It appears that by issuing these purchase orders, HHA has circumvented the bidding process.â€
Wefer said in the statement, â€œItâ€™s important to emphasize that these findings are just for the eight files HUD sampled. Â Extrapolating this data to the whole of the HHA lays bare how dire the situation is.â€
The report also mentions the urgency for the authority to hire a permanent executive director, a position which was previously held by NJ Assemblyman Carmelo Garcia (D-33)Â before the board of commissioners terminated his contract in a raucous special hearing in early August.
While Garcia could not immediately be reached by Hudson County View, he told the Hudson Reporter that record-keeping problems were, in part, the blame of the board and on one of his financial officers.
â€œWhat the Chairwoman fails to admit is that between the two devastating Natural Disasters & the board’s lack of support,â€ wrote Garcia in an email to the Hudson Reporter, â€œtheir obstructionism for the last two years created these situations.â€