After a seven-month investigation, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development sent a letter to Port Hueneme City Manager Cynthia Haas with its findings, corrective actions and repayment requirement, which include reclassifying the RDA (redevelopment agency) fund, developing a cost allocation plan that complies with the federal guidelines for housing funds and repayment of $2.3 million to the federal housing programs in 30 days of the date of the letter, which was sent to the city on Oct. 7.
"In some cases we know we will be able to provide the required back-up and justification, in some cases we still have to investigate further, and there are some items they have correctly identified as being done improperly," Haas said. "We are in contact with them and will be formally requesting a time extension to complete our own assessment to confirm or refute the findings with documentation."
"I think the HUD document vindicates me," said Joseph Gately, the former director of the Housing Authority of Port Hueneme. Gately hired an outside auditor last year to investigate how the city was allocating federal housing funds, a decision Haas did not approve. Gately was then subsequently demoted, put on paid leave and then fired Oct. 1. Haas, on Oct. 14, announced her resignation as city manager, effective Dec. 21, citing personal reasons, including being away from her husband. Robert Bravo, the city’s finance director, was placed on paid leave in May. Bravo was responsible for providing documentation as related to the allocation of federal housing funds and was responsible for updating the cost allocation plan annually. The documentation to HUD was not acceptable, according to HUD officials. Bravo no longer works for the city of Port Hueneme. The city is also facing a $2 million shortfall in the 2015-2016 annual budget; city officials began tackling the deficit late last month.
To read the full HUD report, go to www.vcreporter.com/hudReport.pdf.