Waiting for the OHA
May 11th, 2011
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.“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.