Federal Watchdog Questions Local Housing Agencies' Spending on Meals, Bonuses

December 18, 2017

A Treasury Department watchdog has identified $3 million in questionable expenses by housing agencies in the District and 18 states that used federal funds to assist homeowners in danger of losing their properties.

The expenditures include payments for bonuses, barbecues and even a vehicle allowance. Treasury officials say the figure could increase or even decrease as some housing agencies dispute the allegations.

The allegations are contained in a 93-page audit issued in August by the special inspector general

The audit focuses on TARP’s Hardest Hit Fund, a $9.6 billion program that provides financial assistance and counseling to homeowners at risk of losing their property. D.C. and 18 states take part in the program, run by local housing finance agencies that are required to provide reports and financial statements to Treasury.

“Every dollar that’s spent on something that’s not necessary is a dollar more that a taxpayer has to spend,” Special Inspector Christy Goldsmith Romero said in a phone interview. “Or a dollar that could go to homeowners. So we are taking the strict view because that’s the strict view that’s required by law.”

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