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State Housing Agency Under Fire For COVID Response

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Sacramento, CA — California’s Auditor says the California Department of Housing and Community Development failed to properly manage $316 million in federal CARES Act money that was designed to lessen the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The department was tasked with overseeing the distribution of the funds to groups that collaborate on homeless services under a continuum of care. The audit found that it took so long to finalize contracts that many entities didn’t have access to the money during the height of the pandemic. The audit argues that the mismanagement was so significant that some organizations may now lose the money entirely because of missed deadlines.

Recognizing it did not have capacity to execute the program, the department hired an outside contractor to oversee it. However, the audit points out that the action came 14 months after the CARES Act was approved. The decision should have come within weeks or months.

The department also failed to collect information needed to measure the effectiveness of the program that the federal funds benefit.

The Associated Press reports that the housing agency disagrees with many aspects of the audit, but will still implement the list of recommendations it provides.