ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – The City of Albuquerque is being asked to pay back nearly a million dollars to the federal government after issues with grant money.
KRQE News 13 has obtained emails from the local Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) office, which show problems with the City of Albuquerque.
The emails slam the City for a multitude of issues in how its handled its programs that have received HUD funding, ultimately asking the City of pay back around $945,000.
Some of the issues, according to the emails, have been resolved. A handful, however, have gone unfixed according to a HUD spokeswoman.
Monday night at City Council, councilors approved shuffling around $330,000 in the City’s Family and Community Services department to partially repay the feds.
HUD says that $330,000 makes up for the City’s inability to properly document three different programs: one for low-income people called “Law Access,” another for the elderly called “Senior Retrofit” and the “Safe City Strike Force.”
KRQE News 13 sat down with the Family and Community Services director to ask what went wrong.
“The local HUD office took a different view on those programs than we have historically taken,” Douglas Chaplin said.
Chaplin said the $330,000 to pay back HUD comes from other programs that won’t be affected by the loss of funding.
He says his office is now working to resolve the problems in the next 30 days. At that point, the grant money should be reissued by HUD.
But HUD still wants another $600,000 to be returned that was supposed to fund a mixed income apartment complex. Seven years later and the lot at Central and New York still sits vacant.
The apartment would be part of the overarching old Old El Vado Motel project that also hasn’t gotten off the ground.
Chaplin says he’s working with HUD to explain the planning process for that has been tedious, but that construction is expected to begin next month or in January.
HUD tells KRQE News 13 there’s another $15,000 it’s requesting the City repay for “inconsistencies in the City’s files” over the ‘Trumbull Village’ project.
Chaplin says he’s working to make sure these kind of issues with HUD don’t happen going forward.
“We’re setting up a new way that we look at all of our HUD grants,” he said. “We’ll have a process and a way that we will evaluate everything that we do with these grants, with many sets of eyes from many differently disciplines so that this is in the rear view mirror for us.”
HUD has now deemed Albuquerque a “high risk” city for grant money. That means, according to HUD, that if the City doesn’t follow specific guidelines, it “could result in HUD restricting the City’s access to its CDBG funds, by freezing the City’s ability to draw down from its HUD accounts.”