A forensic audit of United Neighbors Inc. is beginning to affect more than its tenant-based rental assistance program.
Davenport's Citizens Advisory Committee has recommended providing $78,898 in Community Development Block Grant funding for United Neighbors Summer Parks and DREAM Home Buyers programs for the next fiscal year.
The funding, however, will be set aside pending the completion of the forensic audit and submission of required applications items no later than June 1.
United Neighbors' forensic audit stems from an Oct. 21 compliance and monitoring visit from Iowa Finance Authority HOME program analyst Rita Eble, which led to the authority suspending rental-assistance payments to the organization.
The monitoring visit was prompted by an email from Executive Director Evelyn Nelson, who contacted the authority with questions about compliance eight days after taking the reins at United Neighbors from former director Ida Johnson.
Davenport Community Planning and Economic Development senior manager Rita Pribyl said an audit is required every year to receive block grant dollars, but because of United Neighbors' current situation, it has not been able to submit the proper documentation.
Pribyl said she was informed the audit would take a few more weeks to complete after she last spoke to United Neighbors personnel on Friday.
The city receives block grant funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to use or pass along to nonprofits organizations with the intention of benefiting low- to moderate-income households.
This year's allocations include $35,000 for down-payment assistance, $25,000 for home-buyer classes and $18,898 for recreational and educational activities for youth at the Herington, Emeis and Cork Hill parks.
While the city has never been involved with the rental assistance program, it has had its fair share of compliance issues with United Neighbors over past few years when HUD increased its requirements, such as the need for third-party verification of a person's finances.
"It's really been the last couple of years when the requirements changed that there have been compliance issues," Pribyl said. "We've had a long-history and have worked well together."
With the forensic audit and four former employees, including Johnson, suing United Neighbors, members of the City Council requested a summary of the city's experience in relation to United Neighbors compliance history.
In an internal email, Pribyl and economic development director Bruce Berger said three United Neighbors programs have qualified for block grant dollars: Summer Parks, DREAM down-payment assistance and the now-defunct Ramp and Accessibility program.
The ramp program was shutdown in 2014 because of staffing issues.
Although Berger and Pribyl said the HUD requirements have been "challenging" for United Neighbors, they also said the changes made in late 2015 and 2016 included implementation of new procedures and check lists to assure compliance.
Pribyl said that at the request of previous city councils, the city has provided technical assistance to United Neighbors to minimize the risk of noncompliance, penalties and repayment of federal funds to HUD.
"In general throughout the years, UNI has sometimes had challenges regarding compliance and providing the required documentation," the memo said. "In those periods, UNI would not receive City CDBG funding unless or until they were able to modify their program, obtain necessary documentation, etc., to get back into compliance."
The Davenport City Council will hold a public hearing for all block grant funding recommendations at its Wednesday committee-of-the-whole meeting before discussing a motion to approve the allocations.