Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Housing Nonprofit Investigated Over Use Of Federal Funds

The United States Attorney's office is conducting an investigation to determine whether a now-defunct Portsmouth, Va.-based housing nonprofit misused hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal funds.

The organization, the Center for Community Development Inc., (CCDI) had worked in Portsmouth since 1990 to help renovate and provide homes to the needy. Bill Price, a spokesman for the Commonwealth's Attorney Earle Mobley, told The Virginian-Pilot that investigators were concerned about that amount of money that was used by the nonprofit.

“Based on the amount of money and that a significant portion was federal money, we asked the federal authorities to review it,” said Price.

The Center used $313,000 in federal funds from Portsmouth to renovate three properties, funds that the city eventually had to repay to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development because the projects weren’t completed under the federal HOME program. In addition to the $313,000, CCDI received $256,000 from the city council between November 2011 and December 2012.

CCDI closed in February 2012 and the Internal Revenue Service had put about $43,000 in tax liens on at least one of its properties.

For his part, CCDI founder Maury Cooke said Monday that the group's executive director, Bruce AsBerry, had requested a federal investigation into Portsmouth's money-lending practices and that he believes the organization is a victim of racial discrimination.

You can read the full story in The Virginian-Pilot.


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