Turmoil at housing agency impacts all

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

I've been following the fiasco in Kansas City this past week with the release of a formal audit on the troubled former federal housing agency that provides loans to low income residents. The program has been plagued with troubles for years. Two years ago, the city filed suit to force a federal takeover of the housing agency by claiming that money was being misspent. The city didn't have to work very hard to make their case.

Now, a formal audit has been released and the full story is finally surfacing. Instead of $68.5 million in assets that the housing agency reported, the audit found that the actual value of the assets was just $36.9 million. That's a $32 million drain overnight and it represents your tax dollars vanishing before your very eyes.

Most of the write-offs were for bad loans. The remainder was because of over-valued properties. But in the end, it's $32 million of taxpayer funds that simply disappeared.

As one example of the fiasco that is now unraveling, the Kansas City Star reported back in 2004 that the housing agency had spent more than $1.1 million for the restoration of two homes in the city that had been assessed together at a total of just $46,000.

I'll admit I don't know the full story of the housing agency troubles. I hope the courts clear the smoke-screen and someone is held accountable. The sooner the better.

When your federal government tries to help those most in need and then is rewarded with this turmoil, all taxpayers should be offended. But the real losers are those truly in need of housing assistance. Someone has stolen their future. And someone needs to pay a mighty price.

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