To assess the extent of implementation of the six recommendations included in our initial audit report, Housing Trust Fund Corporation: Oversight of the Residential Emergency Services to Offer Home Repairs to the Elderly Program (Report 2020-S-4).
About the Program
Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) consists of several of New York State’s major housing and community renewal agencies, including the Housing Trust Fund Corporation (HTFC), which is responsible for community development through the construction, development, revitalization, and preservation of low-income housing. Within HTFC, the Office of Community Renewal (OCR) is responsible for administering the Residential Emergency Services to Offer Home Repairs to the Elderly (RESTORE) program, which assists senior citizen homeowners with the cost of addressing emergencies and code violations that pose a threat to their health and safety or that affect the livability of their homes.
Local Program Administrators (LPAs), which are selected through an application process where they must demonstrate, among other things, a clear understanding of the RESTORE program requirements, are responsible for administering the program locally. LPAs’ applications are reviewed and scored, and selected LPAs enter into a contract for a term of 1 year with HTFC and can be awarded up to $150,000 per funding year. For the 2 funding years 2020–2021, 19 RESTORE program awards totaling approximately $2.6 million were awarded to 17 LPAs.
Our initial audit report, issued on July 15, 2021, examined whether LPAs were selected appropriately and their selection was properly documented by HCR; and whether selected LPAs were properly administering the RESTORE program in accordance with program goals and requirements. The audit, which covered awards in funding years 2017–2019, found that HCR could improve its process for selecting LPAs and ensuring RESTORE program funds reach elderly residents from more counties and within the prescribed time frames to better support senior homeowners in need of assistance. For example, the audit found that inaccurate scoring on seven of 30 LPA applications reviewed (23%) resulted in at least three LPAs being inappropriately awarded funds while other LPAs were denied the opportunity for funding. In addition, LPAs were not properly administering the RESTORE program and were not using awarded funds within the required time frames to ensure emergency repairs were addressed promptly. We also found that, for the 3-year period, 49 RESTORE awards went to just 36 LPAs to serve only 36 of the 62 counties in the State. Furthermore, there were significant delays from the time OCR received notices of available funding to when RESTORE funds were made available to LPAs, thereby delaying the start of projects and assistance to seniors.
HCR officials have made progress in addressing the issues identified in the initial audit report. Of the initial report’s six audit recommendations, four were implemented and two were partially implemented.
Officials are given 30 days after the issuance of this follow-up to provide information on any actions that are planned to address the unresolved issues discussed in this report.
State Government Accountability Contact Information:
Audit Director:Kenrick Sifontes
Phone: (212) 417-5200; Email: [email protected]
Address: Office of the State Comptroller; Division of State Government Accountability; 110 State Street, 11th Floor; Albany, NY 12236