In a present of progress, Thurston County renewed housing contracts with an area nonprofit regardless of beforehand figuring out fraud in a lease help program it managed.
The Board of County Commissioners final week unanimously authorized the 2022 housing contracts with Neighborhood Motion Council of Lewis, Mason and Thurston Counties for a mixed quantity of $ 3.6 million.
Thurston County abruptly canceled its lease help contracts with CAC in February after a county audit recognized funds to suspected fraudulent functions. The transfer sparked a feud between the county and CAC and disrupted lease help funds for the general public.
Nevertheless, the county was prepared to maneuver ahead with CAC on Tuesday. Commissioner and Board Chair Carolina Mejia voted in favor of the contracts after saying in April she couldn’t belief CAC with future contracts.
“I am shifting ahead on these contracts particularly simply due to their current cooperation with our Auditor’s Workplace and with our Public Well being and Social Companies (division),” she mentioned at Tuesday’s assembly.
One contract offers $ 3.4 million for Housing and Important Wants, a program geared toward stopping homelessness and rehousing unemployed adults in addition to offering them with primary wants.
About 317 individuals who had been homeless or liable to being homeless acquired assist by way of this system every month in 2021, in line with CAC.
The county additionally funded CAC’s fast re-housing program with a $ 200,000 contract renewal. This program offers short-term rental help and providers. To qualify for this system, individuals should undergo coordinated entry, the county’s emergency housing system that prioritizes individuals primarily based on vulnerability.
The renewals don’t give CAC their earlier means to supply lease help to Thurston County residents. The county contracted with LiveStories, a Seattle firm, in March to renew these funds.
Nevertheless, the county stopped accepting new lease help functions on June 15 as a result of dwindling funds and an immense backlog.
The board moved to just accept the contract renewals after including clarifying and supplemental language addressing auditing, entry and administration expectations, in line with county paperwork.
Auditor Mary Corridor elaborated on the additions throughout a Tuesday agenda-setting assembly with the board. She mentioned she expects the county to have a a lot better relationship with CAC going ahead.
“What we wished to do was simply pull out already present legal guidelines and guidelines and simply spotlight them, which I feel we did properly,” Halls mentioned. “(Employees) has been working with CAC employees the final couple of weeks and it is really going rather well.”
The county audit initially uncovered suspected fraud within the rental help program throughout a subrecipient monitoring interval. CAC then disputed fraud was ever discovered and argued the county handled them unfairly after the monitoring.
Communication between the 2 teams broke down and a few leaders from different non-profits criticized the county’s actions.
Corridor informed the board she is constant to carry conversations with CAC officers to speak by way of their roles.
“We’re companions on this, and all of us have the identical purpose,” Corridor mentioned. “So, I feel it is actually nearly enhancing communication and guaranteeing they comply.”
Given the earlier points, the contract renewals designate CAC as “excessive danger.” Assistant County Supervisor Robin Campbell mentioned the label is legitimate as a result of CAC failed to satisfy expectations.
Campbell mentioned the county has recovered some fraudulent lease help funds however not all. She additionally identified the county is required to incorporate their danger evaluation within the contract below federal legislation.
Nonetheless, Commissioner Tye Menser objected to prominently that includes the label within the first paragraph.
“I simply wish to make the purpose that if the protections are there, the label is extra inflammatory than it actually means,” Menser mentioned. “I feel it might be good if we tried to rebuild the connection to attenuate title calling and labeling.”
Nevertheless, Mejia and Commissioner Gary Edwards insisted on protecting the label as it’s, particularly contemplating all that occurred this yr.
“They’re nonetheless a high-risk subrecipient group so I feel we have to have these protections in place,” Mejia mentioned.
Edwards mentioned he questioned whether or not he would assist the brand new contracts, however he in the end supported the added language.
“I notice it’s kind of of robust love, however I actually really feel we have to put it proper out on entrance avenue what we anticipate and haven’t got it in another space,” Edwards mentioned.
On the later assembly, Menser conceded he was outvoted on the label matter, however he nonetheless supported the renewals.
“I do assume this can be a contract that we have used efficiently prior to now and we’ve some new clarifications that ought to make issues actually easy and clear going ahead,” Menser mentioned. “So, I am simply trying ahead to shifting previous a few of our current difficulties.”