Three employees of a Kingston-based non-profit that helps connect people with housing aid have been fired, and a fourth has resigned, after it was determined they had preferentially given vouchers and benefits to relatives.
Carl Nagy-Koechlin, the Executive Director of South Shore Housing Development Corp., which helps low and moderate income residents get housing assistance, said they and the State Department of Housing and Community Development were given a tip by an employee that vouchers had been improperly given out. The State Department of Housing and Community Development investigated, along with an internal investigation, into the allocation of six vouchers:
“They were all determined to be income-eligible for those, but information about the availability of these subsidies was not widely distributed, and therefore people in close proximity to the organization learned about it, applied for it and then received it,” said Nagy-Koechlin.
The state DHCD is looking into two of the cases further, in which the families may have gotten other additional assistance from the state’s RAFT program.
Nagy-Koechlin says the employee overseeing the transactions resigned immediately after the allegations surfaced and the other three employees involved, who had been placed on administrative leave, were fired on Thursday.
He says they have cooperated fully with the the investigation and stresses, and while the misallocations are very serious, they are just a fraction of the aid they help acquire.
Matthew Sheaff, Spokesperson for the Department of Housing and Community Development, says any misuse of public funds is significant.
“These vouchers help some of the most vulnerable families across the commonwealth to achieve stable housing, and so even one misuse is inappropriate,” said Sheaff.
Sheaff says they have put South Shore Housing on a corrective action plan, barred the former employees from working on state programs, and will conduct an evaluation of all the corporation’s state-funded programs in September.
“With the actions we’ve put in place and in identifying the weakness in internal controls, we look forward to working with South Shore to move forward and get them back on their feet,” said Sheaff.
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