By David Pendered
An independent audit of the Atlanta Housing Authority’s financial position indicates AHA is meeting objectives set out in recent budgets to deliver services and reduce operating costs.
“For the third straight year, AHA has passed the compliance audit with the highest marks, and with no findings or deficiencies,” Interim President and CEO Joy Fitzgerald said in a statement. “Over that same period, we have significantly reduced administrative costs while serving more families.”
CohnReznick, an accounting/tax/advisory firm, conducted a compliance audit of AHA for the two most recent fiscal years, 2014 and 2015, both of which end on June 30 of the respective year, according to the AHA statement.
CohnReznick completed an audit of FY 2014 in November 2014, according to the firm’s report as posted on AHA’s website. CohnReznick succeeded Metcalf Davis, AHA’s prior auditors, whose contracted expired at the end of FY 2013, according to CohnReznick’s report.
The timing of the contract expiration coincides with the departure of former AHA President and CEO Renee Glover. Glover reached terms to resign after a three-year political battle with Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. Glover resigned in September 2013 and was replaced by Fitzgerald, who has served on an interim basis for more than two years. Atlanta’s mayor appoints seven commissioners, who oversee the president/CEO.
In announcing the completion of the audit, AHA highlighted the following accomplishments, presented verbatim:
- AHA served 21,779 households;
- 491 families were housed from the Housing Choice waiting list, which was opened for the first time in more than 10 years;
- 85 veterans were housed through the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) program and AHA’s Supportive Housing Program;
- AHA added 798 affordable housing units through new and renewed project-based rental agreements with 12 privately owned communities;
- The authority saved $7.2 million in administrative costs in FY15, for a cumulative total of $12.6 million in administrative savings over a two-year period;
- The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded the City of Atlanta and AHA $30 million for a Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grant that will leverage $396 million in public and private funds to revitalize University Homes and surrounding neighborhoods in West Atlanta.
“We are proud of AHA’s record of expanding affordable housing, serving more households, and maximizing public resources for the benefit of Atlanta’s needy families,” Daniel Halpern, chair of AHA’s Board of Commissioners, said in the statement.
The FY 2015 budget that CohnReznick considered included the following priorities, presented verbatim:
Priority 1: Advance AHA’s Real Estate Initiatives
- FY 2015 FOCUS: Improve the long-term sustainability of mixed-income communities while facilitating expanded housing opportunities.
Priority 2: Advance AHA’s Human Development Initiatives
- FY 2015 FOCUS: Increase the number of Housing Choice households that are compliant with AHA’s Work/Program Requirement through case management services, expanded partnerships and contract service providers.
Priority 3: Complete the business transformation and integrated Enterprise Resource Planning initiative.
- FY 2015 FOCUS: Optimize investments in systems and deploy new capabilities throughout the agency.
Priority 4: Initiate a long-term strategic real estate and human development plan.
FY 2015 FOCUS: Engage partners and stakeholders in a long- term planning process.
The budget included the following executive guidance, verbatim:
- AHA will continue to optimize its use of federal funds by increasing the number of families served while reducing corporate expenses.
- Budgets will be developed based only on commitments carried over from FY 2014 and new FY 2015. commitments approved by the Interim President and CEO
- Budgets should be as realistic as possible and should include only items that have a high probability of being accomplished in FY 2015.
- Budgets for AHA-owned residential communities and AHA Headquarters building should be reviewed for cost savings.
- Professional services should be evaluated to determine if they can be handled internally, reduced or eliminated.
No new hires, including the filling of vacant positions, will be included in the Budget without the approval of the Interim President and CEO.