The city previously paid some 90% of Living Room’s revenue. It has worked to end homelessness for those with AIDS and HIV for nearly 20 years. On Tuesday, an automated phone greeting said the agency’s office was closed until Wednesday.
Living Room did not specify what amount the city paid the nonprofit in its Aug. 21 court filing, but city spokesman Michael Smith said it made $371,600 in reimbursements for the agency’s April and May expenses. Living Room confirmed receipt of the funds Aug. 16, he said.
Living Room said it was owed about $110,000 more, but the full amount could not be paid under the federally funded program’s rules, Smith said.
Trouble between Living Room and the city began last fall, after the nonprofit's then-Executive Director Jerome Brooks proposed that the city outsource administration of the HOPWA program to his nonprofit, the suit said. The city's program has been dogged by complaints of late payments and mismanagement for years and has left some $41 million in federal housing dollars unspent, according to federal figures. Workers for other HOPWA contractors said they did not complain publicly for fear of retaliation.
Former city Office of Human Services Director Preston Brant, who was in charge of the program, opposed Brooks’ idea. After Brooks began talks with Brant to smooth things over, Brant invited Brooks to eat dinner and watch the movie “If Beale Street Could Talk” Jan. 19, the suit alleges.
But the city department head allegedly became “incensed” after Brooks invited a third party to avoid the appearance of impropriety, the suit said, and launched a “secret plan” against Living Room and its leadership.
Afterward, according to the suit, Brant accused the Living Room of improperly releasing sensitive client health information. The data was on a laptop that the husband of a Living Room employee gave to one of the nonprofit’s clients.
Brant denied the accusations. He was fired in May on a separate accusation of behaving inappropriately with a client, his personnel file showed.