Winter Storm Watch from Friday night through Saturday night

Indianapolis City-County Council looks to revamp IHA board membership rules

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Last month Mayor Joe Hogsett told FOX59 News that, stung by word of investigations into the operations and finances of the Indianapolis Housing Agency, he was set for “overhauling” the public housing entity and naming a “new leadership team.”

Hogsett said he was even looking forward to placing new faces on the IHA governing board.

“I know I have a couple of appointments coming up for membership on the IHA board.”

Maybe not.

The City County Council is considering Proposal 197 which, among other changes, will rewrite the rules on the expiration dates of two board members appointed by previous Mayor Greg Ballard, potentially crippling Hogsett’s attempt to immediately determine who will serve on the board to oversee $65 million in annual spending to provide housing for 22,000 low income Marion County residents.

The four-year terms of Commissioners Michael Allen and Christopher Barney are set to expire on December 31, leaving Hogsett with the impression he has two months to name their successors and put his own stamp on the IHA board as it reels from the current management, oversight and financial crisis.

Proposal 197, initiated by IHA last May and introduced by Council President Vop Osili, calls for the terms of all nine current board members to expire on December 31, 2019, with staggered terms up to five years to follow.

The proposed expiration dates fall approximately two months after the 2019 mayoral election.

Hogsett has not yet announced whether he will seek re-election and would therefore oversee IHA’s board reboot.

Audits by the State Board of Accounts and the Department of Housing and Urban Development this past summer revealed financial irregularities and poor record keeping at IHA, causing the agency to write off or lose track of more than $2 million.

The HUD Office of Inspector General is continuing its investigation as a monitor has been named to oversee IHA operations and finances.

Hogsett recently announced a nationwide search to find a candidate to replace longtime Executive Director Rufus Bud Meyers, who abruptly announced his retirement at the end of August after the audit results were announced.

The proposal also permits IHA to convert its properties to Rental Assistance Demonstration, “which allows public housing agencies and owners of other Housing and Urban Development (HUD) assisted properties to convert units from their original sources of HUD financing to project-based Section 8 contracts.”

According to an internal email crafted by Interim Executive Director Jennifer Green last Thursday, IHA was “thrown a curve ball” by HUD in denying RAD conversion for Barton Tower-Annex.

“We need to meet to get our game plan together,” reads the email.

IHA intended to convert its Barton Tower-Annex property to a Section 8 voucher site and thus secure a multi-million-dollar loan to provide maintenance and improvements to the property.

With the RAD conversion (approved by the IHA board last week) in doubt, it’s unclear whether the intent of Proposal 197 remains intact.