Federal Auditors Criticize City Of Memphis Housing Rehab Program

(Memphis) There’s a scathing audit from the feds accusing the city of Memphis of improperly handling a housing program.

HARP is the city’s housing and rehabilitation program.

It’s designed to help citizens repair their homes and eliminate blight.

However, first the feds say the city must clean up how it runs the program.

This audit by the Department of Housing and Urban Development shows contractors hired by Memphis did shoddy work and many of the jobs were done with no oversight.

The feds have the pictures to prove it.

A sink with a leak so bad it damaged a wood cabinet, an electrical panel held together by duct tape instead of screws, a door frame replaced with a termite infested one.

These are just some of the problems documented by HUD. Auditors said the city’s management of the HARP program and the way it resolved code violations was not effective.

People living in Westwood have heard of the problems some of their neighbors were on the receiving end of those bad repair jobs.

“One woman with all that water running from up under her sink and stuff and showing the side of the house where they were supposed to be doing the electricity and stuff. It was just a mess,” said Raymond Robinson, Westwood.

According to auditors, part of the problem is the city never followed through with inspections.

A homeowner on Ledbetter told me a contractor from the Housing and Rehabilitation Program left her electrical system in a mess. Lights outside and inside malfunction.

The work was done in August 2012 and still hasn’t been fixed.

No one was available from the city to talk about the audit today. A spokesperson referred us to its written response to HUD about improvements.

The changes include: New policies and procedures but don’t give specifics, Previous harp inspectors were disciplined and are no longer with the city, Some contractors were also eliminated from the program.

There is now also an independent department to monitor inspections.

And, after a recommendation by HUD, the city agreed to reimburse the program by almost $20,000.

Robinson said, “They should be held responsible because they are the ones who gave the contractor the job and they didn’t do it.”

The city is also re-inspecting all of those old cases so hopefully those homeowners with the electrical problems and leaks will soon get some relief.