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Monday, May 27, 2024

“Not much was working right.” Federal and local takeover of Indianapolis Housing Agency announced

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A takeover of the Indianapolis Housing Agency is underway. The move comes after years of dysfunction and mismanagement at the agency responsible for providing affordable housing in Indianapolis.

HUD Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Richard Monocchio and Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett sign the cooperative agreement. (Jill Sheridan WFYI)

The City of Indianapolis and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced Wednesday they had entered into a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement.

The agencies said the partnership seeks to reform IHA and improve housing options for low-income residents.

HUD Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Richard Monocchio said an initial investigation uncovered a number of financial and operational issues at IHA and its properties.

“Conditions were poor, very difficult to track their funds, the voucher program wasn’t working right … not much was working right,” Monocchio said.

The local board has been removed and HUD has appointed a representative to serve in the interim. The city will also seek a local recovery monitor to lead changes that include building maintenance, landlord relationships, and waitlist management.

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett said his administration reached out to HUD last year because it is committed to housing solutions.

“Today is an expression of the city’s belief that housing,” Hogsett said. “Safe, habitable and secure housing lies at the core of any healthy and prosperous lifestyle.”

IHA has been at the heart of numerous housing issues in recent years. Residents at properties have filed lawsuits about unsafe conditions. Other habitability issues were heightened by residents in 2022. At the time, IHA estimated it had a $10 million deficit.

There will be a forensic audit to better understand how funds have been mismanaged.

Local housing authorities are entities that receive funding through HUD, and distribute housing vouchers or Section 8 to residents who meet income requirements.

Monocchio said Indianapolis’s agency has not been held accountable.

“It’s unacceptable to the residents, [and] to all of our stakeholders that work in this business and who rely on the government to run things the right way,” he said.

Residents should not experience any changes to their housing and rental assistance.

Initial changes may open up more affordable housing to residents on the waitlist as more units become available through improved services. Monocchio said there appears to be about 1,500 vouchers not in use because of mismanagement.

“Nobody wanted to do the hard work it takes to issue a voucher, to set the rent, to work with the landlords, to inspect the unit,” Monocchio said.

IHA manages 20,000 low-income households in Indianapolis.

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