Waiting for the OHA

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May 11th, 2011

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Omaha, NE – It’s still not clear what happened to millions in unaccounted-for funds of the Omaha Housing Authority, or, even whether they are unaccounted for. A forensic audit will be conducted, but the results may not be in for months.

A public housing home under construction in North Omaha (Photo credit Omaha Housing Authority)

“No one is suggesting there’s criminal activity here, there’s just no way of knowing where the money has gone,” Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson said in his weekly conference call with reporters Wednesday. Nelson said his request for an audit of OHA’s books, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s agreement to do so, doesn’t necessarily mean something illegal occurred.

But, Nelson said, over $5.2 million can’t be accounted for at OHA, and where those dollars ended up needs to be made clear so the agency can serve the thousands of low-income residents who depend on public housing.

“They’re not well served if the money is not accounted for appropriately,” Nelson said. “But at the end of the day, it’s [the audit] to make certain that the Omaha Housing Authority continues to operate, but will do so in an appropriate fashion, and will continue to provide housing for those who are served by that agency.”

The funds, which apparently came from three different accounts, may have been used to pay for day to day operating expenses at the financially flailing agency, instead of their designated purpose. That would make them accounted for, but accounted for an incorrect purpose. Moving the money around in that way wouldn’t be criminal, but it would violate HUD rules.

Former Executive Director of OHA, Stan Timm, resigned in January, just weeks before the first allegations of misused funds surfaced. A search for a new director is underway.

A representative from OHA would not comment on the record for this story.

One Response

  1. Lee Adama says:

    Unfortunately, Senator Nelson has taken Fred Conley and Ben Gray’s accusations as fact. However, the OHA books are audited on an annual basis by an independent auditor and periodically by HUD. The number of questions by the independent auditor each year has reduced since the early 2000’s.

    Fred and Ben are on a witch hunt and when the forensic audit results are revealed it will be evident that everything was accounted for and reflected in the annual financial statements and audits. For a cash strapped organization that will most likely be cutting jobs later this year, Fred and Ben should be held accountable for the forensic audit costs and asked to resign when nothing is uncovered.

    Ben Gray should also resign his City Council position because he is playing politics with an organization meant to help the under privileged. Ben surely has a conflict of interest when he makes poor decisions for OHA for votes he wants to stay on the City Council.

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