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Audit Performance Review Directs Payment of WHP Invoice Allowing Work to Continue on Needed Affordable Housing

Post Date:10/22/2019 4:00 PM

Mayor thanks the City Auditor for guidance regarding management procedures as the City salvaged the agency’s neighborhood stabilization efforts

Mayor Mike Purzycki said today that an audit performance review of the Wilmington Housing Partnership (WHP) has cleared the way for work to resume on a much-needed affordable housing project in the City’s northeast section. The Walt’s Way Townhouse complex on Vandever Avenue was one of two affordable housing projects that nearly collapsed until the City decided to step in last year to help manage the WHP, which had become insolvent.

“My administration was determined to do what was feasible to preserve the WHP’s legacy of neighborhood stabilization, which it performed with great success and consistency until a few years ago,” said the Mayor. “We had only two choices as we peeled back the layers of the WHP’s troubled financial picture—let the agency and its affordable housing projects collapse, leaving people without home ownership opportunities and vendors without payments—or do the right thing, which was to settle the WHP’s debt, some of which had become the City’s debt, and continue with construction of affordable homes for families who are ready to purchase these properties and help stabilize a neighborhood.”

The Mayor said the City made the correct decision to manage these inherited problems. He said a $3.4 million bank loan, incurred by the City during previous Administrations because of its association with the WHP, was paid off before the City defaulted, as it should have been. The Mayor also said the City felt that smaller vendors who had not been paid for WHP work already completed should be compensated.

Mayor Purzycki said the Auditor’s review raised questions about internal procedures, some of which had been in place for decades and were practiced by previous Executive and Legislative branches of City government, but the report raised no concerns about the results of the City’s intervention. He said the report showed that the Administration’s actions and motives were free of waste, abuse or fraud, as it sought to identify funding to prop up the ailing WHP. The Mayor added that he is open to reviewing any internal procedures that need to be handled differently.

“We are pleased that the payment of legitimate invoices to contractors was finally approved after an unreasonable delay of almost four months,” said the Mayor. “The so-called irregularities were all arcane procedural matters that could have been resolved easily by the Treasurer with simple communication with the Administration rather than by the use of “extended custody” of authorized payments, which is not provided for anywhere in the law. We respect the findings of the auditor and will adjust our procedures accordingly.

Mayor Purzycki said the Administration and City Council made the right decisions about the WHP, even if they do not ultimately result in the restoration of the WHP to its former position as a housing and neighborhood development leader. “These were not easy decisions to make, especially in a very fluid situation where accurate assets and debts of the WHP were called into question. But I am convinced that we made the best use of funds available, and we will continue to do everything we can to complete the Vandever Avenue project as well as determine the most economical way to finish the homes on Bennett Street.”

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