Metropolitan Housing Alliance faces federal scrutiny over ‘performance deficiencies’


Share post:

Little Rock, Arkansas – The Metropolitan Housing Alliance, serving as Little Rock’s primary public housing agency, has recently come under scrutiny following a federal evaluation. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) pointed out specific “performance deficiencies” concerning the agency in a recent letter.

An assessment report from Aug. 9 saw HUD designate the Metropolitan Housing Alliance as “troubled”. This categorization stemmed from an examination of various aspects, including its financial standing, physical infrastructure, management competence, and capital fund utilization. The evaluation revealed that the housing authority managed to secure only 40 out of a potential 100 points. A score below 60 points results in the “troubled” designation, as was the case for the agency during its 2017 assessment.

The agency has a recurring issue with its management scores, which have regularly fallen below the HUD-approved benchmark between 2011 and 2018. In defense, Kenyon Lowe, the then MHA board chairman, asserted that management challenges had been addressed.

Further concerns arose in April 2022 when HUD’s Departmental Enforcement Center identified consistent non-compliance with various purchasing regulations by the MHA, a detail that was reported by the Arkansas Advocate last October.

Anthony Landecker, the director of Little Rock’s HUD field office, emphasized the urgent need for action. He conveyed this sentiment in a letter dated Aug. 16 addressed to key officials, including the board, MHA Executive Director Ericka Benedicto, and Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr.

One notable issue, highlighted by Landecker, was MHA’s failure to provide HUD with timely financial data, which also adversely impacted the agency’s management score. The board chairman, Lee Lindsey, refrained from commenting on this matter following a recent meeting but assured that these concerns would be addressed directly with HUD. Lindsey is keen on obtaining a comprehensive understanding of each point raised by Landecker.

As per procedural norms, MHA is expected to draft a “proposed recovery plan” and submit it to HUD within a month of receiving the said letter. Commissioner Leta Anthony stressed the need for a dialogue with HUD to identify challenges and craft potential solutions.

Looking forward, HUD is in the process of devising a “binding recovery agreement” with the MHA to ensure the faithful implementation of the agency’s recovery strategy. This agreement outlines specific targets for the housing authority, which, if met, will enable its continued operation.

To conclude, the MHA’s financial assessments are anchored in mandatory yearly third-party reviews. The accounting firm BKD has been overseeing these audits for the MHA since 2012. While the COVID-19 pandemic saw the postponement of the audit for the fiscal year 2019, a subsequent delay of 18 months was attributed to BKD by Commissioner Anthony.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related articles

Arkansas outperforms national unemployment rate in February

Arkansas - Arkansas workers have reasons to celebrate as recent statistics reveal a promising outlook in the state's job...

Search underway for missing teen in Little Rock

Little Rock, Arkansas - The Little Rock Police Department is currently seeking assistance from the public to locate 15-year-old...

Gas prices in the Natural State increased by over 7 cents in a week

This past week, Arkansas witnessed an increase in gas prices, with the average price of gasoline in the...

Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders signs executive order to address maternal health crisis

In a significant move aimed at tackling the state's alarming maternal mortality rates, Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders...