Problems with public housing in Kyle have come forward as city officials try to get a handle on allegations by federal authorities regarding administrator pay, maintenance problems and lack of oversight.
The Kyle Housing Authority, which oversees two public housing properties in Kyle, was the subject of a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) assessment that discovered “issues of concern.”
According to a letter addressed to KHA Executive Director Vickie Simpson, the concerns extended to the authority’s “internal controls, funding, and its authorized utilization.”
KHA is alleged to have operated over five years without a full board of directors as required by the Texas Local Government code. A board is required to authorize contracts and approve increases in staff payroll.
City officials began looking into the issue after HUD contacted the city regarding the KHA board. Kyle City Manager Scott Sellers said the city has no oversight over the KHA.
Inspections in 2013 and 2015 showed repeated problems in the homes of tenants of the Kyle Housing projects. The HUD letter, which was reviewed with Simpson, included damaged door locks, range and refrigerator issues and leaking faucets and pipes.
Simpson “could not produce” evidence of corrective measures and repairs that were supposed to have been made to correct the problems.
After reviewing financials that spanned a seven-year period, the assessment alleged Simpson and the KHA maintenance person spent more than 75 percent of their HUD Public Housing program work schedule addressing concerns on a separate USDA program.
Simpson has been affiliated with the Kyle Housing Authority for more than 25 years.
According to the assessment, Simpson “essentially doubled” administrative salaries charged to HUD.
HUD observed a “trend of increasing compensated absences” Simpson charged to the Public Housing program. She also was unable to provide a database or spreadsheet to track vacation and sick times.
According to the HUD letter, Simpson worked four days per week at seven hours per day, and she did not work on Fridays.
HUD analyzed expenses over a five-year period and found “unsupported contract costs” that totaled $65,000.
The KHA also didn’t have a board-authorized procurement plan in place, nor did it abide “by an industry standard procurement policy.”
Simpson, according to the assessment, is alleged to have stated the board “doesn’t need to be made aware of my day-to-day operations nor do I seek advance procurement approval for purchases.”
There was an “excessively long make-ready period for units to become available for a tenant to move in,” according to the assessment.
Simpson did not produce any written guidance with regard to the make-ready process nor appear to have a plan to address any maintenance concerns.
The Hays Free Press reached out to Simpson, who said she was “not ready to address anything” until she addressed the letter to HUD. Simpson said she was “very upset” with the findings in the assessment.
The resulting fallout now leaves city officials to pick up the pieces.
Kyle Mayor Todd Webster said he had no knowledge of the authority prior to being sent the HUD letter.
Webster said he “was not made aware” of the mayor’s responsibility to appoint members to the KHA board until recently. He was also unsure if previous mayors appointed members to the KHA board.
However, Webster claimed Simpson signed appointment certifications for board appointees in 2007. He said that is the only record he has regarding board member appointments.
“Over time, it’s fallen through the cracks,” Webster said.
Fixing the problem while staying within the city’s bounds is what Webster said he’s attempting to accomplish.
The process began Tuesday when five new KHA board members were sworn in.
One of the board’s first orders of business was to accept the resignation of Simpson, which was submitted to Sellers this month. Simpson’s resignation will be effective Dec. 31.
“We’ve set it up for a framework of success going forward,” Webster said. “They’re a well-rounded group that would contribute to the reestablishment of the organization.”