Recent audit of Columbia Housing Authority highlights more contradictions of top officials

Recent audit of Columbia Housing Authority highlights more contradictions of top officials

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - New information reveals more contradictions between what’s on paper and statements made by Columbia Housing Authority Director Gilbert Walker.

This week, Walker said the housing authority is in good financial shape, in part thanks to innovative initiatives he has taken on.

“Since I have been the executive director for the authority, one of the things I knew is we couldn’t depend on the federal government in order to get funds that would be coming in,” Walker said.

As a result, Walker said he purchases units from private owners, fixes them up and sells them back, providing a revenue source for the housing authority.

“The aggressiveness that I took specifically to go outside that rem of where most housing authorities don’t do that,” he said. “I felt that there was a need and it’s a good need because we’re dipping into some of those funds.”

The audit of the fiscal year 2017 completed by an independent auditor outlines several instances of noncompliance on behalf of the housing authority. Within the findings, the audit points to CHA’s “inadequate control over financial reporting.” The audit discovered a $3,000,000 deficit on the books at the housing authority. It goes on to point out errors in calculations of income, rent, and utilities of tenants using section 8 vouchers.

2017 wasn’t the first time CHA was caught making those errors; audits from 2015 and 2016 show the errors have occurred repeatedly without correction.

The calculations are critical, as they help determine the amount of money given to the housing authority by HUD every year. As a result of his efforts “flipping” units, Walker said his agency has a “build up of unrestricted funds not affected by HUD.”

WIS reached out to CHA Attorney Bob Coble to find out where the revenue source can be seen within the audit. Coble said he would have to look into Walker’s statements further to find out.

Also outlined in the audit are repeated non-compliance issues related to non-working smoke detectors not being repaired within the required 24 hours. This practice was identified in a 2016 audit and again in 2017, cited as “repeated.”

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