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City Can't Account For $4.5M In Affordable Housing Funds, Inspector General Says

By Stephen Gossett in News on Mar 28, 2017 9:11PM

In shocking-but-not-shocking news, the City of Chicago can't properly explain what happened to $4.5 million that was supposed to be allocated to affordable housing. And the city won't give back that money to the fund for which it was intended. That's according to a report released on Tuesday by the Inspector General.

When the watchdog's office audited revenue that was generated by development and density fees, the city couldn't offer up records to actually show that the $4.5 million had gone to the proper affordable-housing pool, according to IG Joseph Ferguson. In the report, the Office of the Inspector General claims it asked for that the money be restored, but that request was shot down.

The Emanuel administration meanwhile scoffed at the suggestion that the money was lost. Officials reportedly said they believe the money went where it was supposed to go, to the affordable housing fund, and any "lost" money was only a figment of the vagaries of record-keeping.

As the OIG mentioned in its report, the city in 2015 created a fund separate from its Corporate Fund for affordable housing, and the watchdog said such a fund should help in these kinds of problems future. Still, even if it is a bookkeeping error, that's quite a big one.

Ferguson's office found another eyebrow-raiser in its audit. In ten years of existence, the undermanned and under-funded Chicago Community Land Trust—whose goal is to preserve affordability for housing constructed through City programs—has never even actually acquired land to build such units.

"A lack of strategy and undelivered resources has negatively impacted the options available to those in need," Ferguson said in a statement. "While the Department has committed to engaging in a more strategic and evidenced based approach in determining the location of affordable housing investments, the City’s response to OIG’s remaining findings is concerning, including its decision to abandon the mission of the City of Chicago’s only affordable housing land trust."

And we wonder why there's an affordable housing crisis in Chicago.