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Audit reveals oversight issues with Harris County rental help program – KPRC Click2Houston

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HARRIS COUNTY, Texas – A months-old Harris County Audit memo obtained by KPRC 2 Investigates reveals a sequence of issues with the administration of public funds in a Harris County Rental Help Program.

This system was designed to supply reduction to each tenants and landlords by paying lease for Harris County residents, adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Harris County employed BakerRipley, a non-profit group, with expertise in managing public help packages, to handle this system, in return BakerRipley earned tens of millions of {dollars}, and a minimize of these public funds, which originated by means of the federal authorities and have been distributed to Harris County.

Harris County Auditor memo cites issues with Rental Reduction Program oversight. (KPRC-TV)

An outdoor agency, Guidehouse, additionally examined this system.

The Harris County Audit appeared to substantiate the findings, a few of which BakerRipley disputes.

Overpayments to landlords and funds to candidates who have been already receiving funds by means of one other supply have been cited within the audit as sources of mismanaged public funds.

Harris County Audit observations concerning Harris County’s COVID-19 Rental Help Program. (KPRC-TV)
BakerRipley was paid tens of millions of {dollars} to manage Harris County’s COVID-19 Rental Help Program (KPRC-TV)

BakerRipley responded to our request for remark by sending KPRC 2 Investigates a duplicate of its earlier response to the Harris County Auditor:

“Expensive Ms. Perkins and Mr. Put up:

This info is being supplied by BakerRipley concerning the suggestions supplied by the Harris County Inside Audit Division in its February 25, 2022 memorandum regarding the Guidehouse Monitoring Report associated to the Harris County COVID-19 Rental Help program administered by BakerRipley. We consider that the data contained herein gives further context and a extra full image of BakerRipley’s efforts and we recognize the chance to have it included as a part of the report.

Goal 1 DETERMINE WHETHER THERE WAS PROPER PROGRAM OVERSIGHT

Suggestion 1. BakerRipley has supplied responses to the Guidehouse monitoring report and has labored with Guidehouse and Harris County to deal with the Findings within the “Report back to Harris County, Texas DRAFT dated Might 26, 2021.” As your report signifies, BakerRipley has met with Guidehouse and Harris County frequently to supply the insurance policies, procedures, course of maps, and updates on the precise objects recognized within the Guidehouse report.

Goal 2: PROVIDE A STATUS OF BAKERRIPLEY’S RECOVERY OF OVERPAYMENTS

Suggestion 2.1. BakerRipley has been offering updates to Guidehouse on the gathering of overpayments because the overpayments have been first reported to BakerRipley. BakerRipley continued to supply updates all through 2021. Now we have obtained a complete of $203,481 in refunds by means of March 31, 2022 inside the classes recognized, which might be included in our quarterly updates to Guidehouse and Harris County.

Suggestion 2.2 BakerRipley workers are required to ship communications from the Rental Help Program’s SalesForce database system which robotically shops a duplicate of the correspondence. The previous worker didn’t observe our normal communications process which was an anomaly. The letters have been all despatched and Guidehouse was made conscious that the letters have been despatched. A duplicate of the letters that have been despatched have been saved within the SalesForce database.

Suggestion 2.3 BakerRipley has accomplished its analysis and gives the next replace: After reviewing the 562 candidates’ housing conditions, BakerRipley beforehand reported our ends in our assembly on February 8, 2022 with the Harris County Auditors Workforce, after which despatched the file with the outcomes on February 9, 2022. We didn’t discover any duplicate funds between the candidates taking part in Federal housing packages and the rental help program.

Suggestion 3.1 BakerRipley has created an inside process to confirm the contract necessities towards the RAP database and rental help purposes to make sure alignment with program necessities. We conduct weekly conferences with RAP Workforce members and new insurance policies and procedures are supplied at the moment. Written procedures, course of maps, and insurance policies are additionally up to date at the moment.

Suggestion 3.2 BakerRipley believes our present accounting practices meet all usually accepted accounting rules. The final word duty for the legal responsibility doesn’t lie with BakerRipley, as mirrored in the newest contract modification between BakerRipley and Harris County, and recording receivables (and the corresponding allowances) would misrepresent the monetary place of the Company. We consider different inside techniques and controls are satisfactory to trace the overpayments.

Suggestion 4 BakerRipley does work with their sub-recipients and gives the wanted info and course to finish the duties efficiently. The knowledge for RAP 2020, program guidelines and tips, have been issued by the US Treasury Division with frequent modifications as this system developed. Program guidelines and guideline modifications issued by Harris County and different native funders have been included in actual time together with modifications and updates obtained from the Treasury Division. To make use of a standard analogy, we have been constructing the aircraft whereas we have been flying it and made each effort to speak new expectations and necessities well timed to all stakeholders.

Please let me know you probably have any questions concerning the data supplied. Sincerely,

Barbara Schetter

Barbara Schetter Sr. Director Regional Initiatives BakerRipley”

Copyright 2022 by KPRC Click2Houston – All rights reserved.

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