Wednesday, Jun 20, 2018
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Overspent $98,000 remains a mystery

Homelessness Board owes sum to city

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    Paul Z. Tecpanecatl.

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Paul Z. Tecpanecatl.

The Blade
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The Toledo-Lucas County Homelessness Board, which oversees homeless shelters and homeless prevention in the county, still cannot find $98,000 owed to the city of Toledo, and the agency on Tuesday said it now has no idea from which fund the money is missing.

Paul Tecpanecatl, chairman of the homelessness board, revealed last week that an independent audit discovered a “major accounting error that led to the overspending of $98,000 in homeless prevention and rapid rehousing.” He stressed that “no money is physically missing” but that a “specific fund code was overspent.” The homelessness board asked the city to forgive that debt.

The homelessness board rescinded that request in a letter Monday to Toledo Neighborhoods Director Lourdes Santiago.

Tom Bonnington, homelessness board executive director since June 3, said Tuesday that the money was not overspent from its homeless prevention and rapid rehousing allocation. He stressed that the money was not stolen, but could not say how it was missing.

“In our rush to transparency, we may have stated a few things off,” Mr. Bonnington said.

He said the agency is working with an independent auditor to sort out the problem.

“I don’t know exactly what our auditor has found because she is working into 2013,” Mr. Bonnington said. “We hope there is no deficit, but until we have good accounting, I don’t want to speak to that.”

The homelessness board declined to release a draft copy of its latest audit. Leslie DeMarco, a certified public accountant and certified fraud examiner hired by the board, did not return telephone calls seeking comment.

The agency has used three pots of money since 2009 — $3.2 million of federal money funneled through the city of Toledo; about $700,000 of state money provided through Lucas County, and about $200,000 from the United Way of Greater Toledo — to pay for rents, rent deposits, and utilities of rehoused homeless people or people in danger of becoming homeless.

Ms. Santiago confirmed last week that the homelessness board owes the city $98,000, but said it was not because of the homeless prevention/​rapid rehousing.

“They have not provided us with the financial documents,” Ms. Santiago said Tuesday. “I am asking for the draft audit and an accounting of how the dollars were spent for the [homeless prevention/​rapid rehousing], and I have asked for information on how the executive director is being paid.”

Deb Conklin, the group’s former executive director, was a part-time employee of the board. Mr. Bonnington is the board’s first full-time executive director and receives a $65,000 salary — $30,000 more than Ms. Conklin’s $35,000 part-time salary.

“I have asked how that full-time executive director is being paid and from what fund,” Ms. Santiago said.

The homelessness board and the city’s neighborhoods department have been under fire in recent years for their roles in deciding federal allocations for Toledo homeless shelters. The city is the recipient of the federal money, the homelessness board is the subrecipient, and shelters are sub-subrecipients.

Toledo Mayor-elect D. Michael Collins promised in September to restructure the homelessness board and the city’s neighborhoods department.

During the mayoral campaign, Mr. Collins blasted Mayor Mike Bell for slashing homeless shelter budgets the past two years and submitting spending plans to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development without Toledo City Council approval. He also criticized the homelessness board for asking shelters to allow overcrowding, with people sleeping on floors or cots.

Contact Ignazio Messina at: or 419-724-6171 or on Twitter @IgnazioMessina.

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