HUD questions spending by city agency

With millions of dollars in outstanding loans, a Providence agency is responding to concerns from the federal government about how it is spending tax dollars.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development highlighted deficiencies at the Providence Economic Development Partnership in a report received by the local agency July 3.

The nonprofit group is an arm of the city’s economic development efforts that issues taxpayer-funded loans. That ability that was suspended amid a review by HUD that found, in essence, the city lacked adequate oversight over the PEDP.

Mayor Angel Taveras said the city is already addressing the problems.

“To make sure that we’re using the money in the best way possible to help develop jobs here in the city of Providence consistent with the HUD guidelines,” Taveras said.

Among HUD’s numerous findings: about $3 million in loans using Community Development Block Grant money that were made on the basis of job creation, created no jobs.

HUD also questioned the eligibility of another $3.29 million in loans to about a dozen nonprofits.

“These are loans focused here in the city, and it’s clear from HUD that we could do a better job,” Taveras said.

One resident voiced her concern at a PEDP board meeting on Tuesday.

“I think you have made progress, but I think you’re still in serious trouble,” said Judith Reilly of Providence.

The PEDP board approved the corrective actions the city has drawn up to address HUD’s findings. The PEDP has to officially respond to HUD by Nov. 3.

The city has more than $15 million in outstanding loans to various entities, with more than $2 million past due as of last week.

Article source: http://www2.turnto10.com/news/2012/oct/23/hud-questions-spending-city-agency-ar-1215050/

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