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Published: 11/22/2013

Audit of homelessness board finds nearly $100,000 in overspending

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The agency that oversees homeless shelters and homeless prevention in Lucas County overspent nearly $100,000 of taxpayers' money, the group's chairman announced today.

“We feel the money was spent for legitimate homeless sources,” Paul Tecpanecatl, chairman of the Toledo-Lucas County Homelessness Board, said during a news conference.

An independent audit discovered a “major accounting error that led to the overspending of $98,000 in homeless prevention and rapid rehousing,” he said. “It's important to stress that while no money is physically missing, the specific fund code was overspent.”

The homelessness board has known about the problem since October and alerted the city of Toledo Wednesday.

The agency 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 homeless people or people in danger of becoming homeless, Mr. Tecpanecatl said.

The agency likely spent more than what it could and now wants the city of Toledo to forgive that debt.

Earlier this month, Toledo Councilman George Sarantou pressed the Bell administration for answers on why Family House, a family shelter in central Toledo, and Aurora House, a shelter for homeless women and their children in North Toledo, are owed thousands of dollars stretching back to July.

A holdup of $10,000 to $14,000 owed to the shelters each month since July 1 appears to be because of $19 that was spent to cover gas in a bus which carried homeless people at Family House to a Mud Hens game.

Councilman D. Michael Collins - who will replace Mayor Bell in early January - has promised to overhaul the city's neighborhoods department, which administers federal money, and the homelessness board.

Lourdes Santiago, the city’s neighborhoods director, could not be immediately reached for comment.



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