Inspector General reviewing allegations in letter from lawmakers studying state housing agency

Inspector General reviewing allegations in letter from lawmakers studying state housing agency

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The Office of Inspector General said they have received a letter from the House Legislative Oversight Committee studying the South Carolina State Housing Finance and Development Authority about concerns they received from a constituent wishing to remain anonymous.

The Inspector General said they have started a preliminary review into these allegations. He said his staff is still very early in the process and it is too early to tell if they will launch an investigation.

“While not all of the concerns shared by a constituent, wishing to remain anonymous, may rise to the level of necessitating an investigation by your office,” lawmakers wrote in the letter.

Documents obtained by WIS show the anonymous constituent was employed by the agency for several decades and was interviewed by committee staff in July. We also have some more details on the allegations.

Some of these allegations from the former employee include: ‘(1) development, structure, and lack of timely notice to appropriate officials (e.g., board of commissioners and agency general counsel) of a separation agreement with a former deputy director; (2) position fulfillment practices (e.g., not posting positions); (3) low employee morale with high turnover among senior management; (4) annual board retreats costing the agency approximately $10,000 to $15,000 each year; (5) implementation of appropriate internal agency practices to address issues identified in the federal audit of the SC HELP Program, a program no longer accepting applications which provided assistance to homeowners impacted by the economic crisis; (6) exploration of formation of a nonprofit organization that may supplement salaries of agency executive leadership; (7) excess unspent bond proceeds ($150 million) which could be put towards increasing housing across South Carolina; and (8) termination of a program with the Office of Aging without a vote by the agency’s board of commissioners.’

The South Carolina State Housing Finance and Development Authority did not comment on the letter last Thursday during the meeting. On Tuesday, they sent the following statement in response to it:

“SC Housing is a self-sustaining housing finance agency committed to ensuring that South Carolinians have the opportunity to live in safe, decent, and affordable housing. Though SC Housing is not funded by state appropriations, we do operate as a state agency and as such we undergo periodic review by the legislature. As part of the House Oversight Committee’s seven-year review of our agency, the public was encouraged to comment on their experience with the agency and the agency’s performance. SC Housing became aware of the Oversight Subcommittee’s letter to the Office of Inspector General the same day as the subcommittee hearing. We look forward to meeting with the Inspector General to address these concerns even though the committee noted in its letter that ‘the concerns…may not rise to the level of necessitating an investigation’ by the Inspector General. At this time, we do not plan to make any public comments concerning specific allegations until the Inspector General and/or Oversight Committee have finalized their review(s).”

You can read the full letter to the Inspector General below.

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