D.C. Officials to Scrutinize Spending by AIDS Groups
October 21, 2009
Reacting to a series of Washington Post reports published on Sunday and Monday, District of Columbia officials said they will investigate questionable city AIDS grant spending, among other problems. The 10-month Post investigation focused on the spending, services, and finances of every specialized nonprofit AIDS organization awarded funding by the District's' HIV/AIDS Administration (HAA) from 2004 to 2008.
The Post cited HAA monitoring of housing grants for people with AIDS as especially lacking, with cursory city inspections, often by phone. Though problems were documented, troubled groups continued receiving grants.
In one case, the city awarded more than $1 million over five years to Hill's Community Residential Support Services, which in August 2007 reportedly allowed residents with HIV/AIDS to live without electricity, gas, food, staff support or a telephone. In another, the city awarded Miracle Hands more than $400,000 for a job-training center that has never opened. In 2005 and mid-September 2006, D.C. inspector-general auditors found no signs of an AIDS group operating during office visits to Our Children, which was paid more than $500,000 to subsidize rental payments for people with AIDS.
Though many of the problems predated Mayor Adrian Fenty's administration, he said, "We probably did not move fast enough to get at some of those inexcusable management deficiencies."
HAA Director Shannon Hader, who took office in October 2007, is training staff and building a data system to make strategic decisions on allocating resources, Fenty said. Only groups with good track records will receive funds, he said. "What you have seen is a completely systemic turnaround."
D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles said he might try to recover money from some of the groups mentioned in the Post series. Criminal charges are also possible, said Nickles, declining to mention any particular group.
10.20.2009; Debbie Cenziper, Nikita Stewart
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.