Auditor gives Atlanta Housing Authority a clean financial review

An independent auditor has given the Atlanta Housing Authority a clean bill of health on its annual financial reports for 2011 and 2012.

Responsible for providing affordable housing to low-income families, the housing authority is one of the largest state-chartered agencies in Georgia. In the coming year, it must navigate the expiration of stimulus funds and other challenges to its $250 million budget.

The housing authority has about $100 million in cash balances, according to documents released this week. That money can only be used for affordable housing purposes consistent with business plans approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The federal agency provided $235 million for AHA’s operations in fiscal year 2012, the bulk of AHA’s cash.

In the most recent fiscal year, the AHA spent $12.7 million on renovations and improvements at the 13 communities it owns.

“In our opinion, the financial statements…present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of the Atlanta Housing Authority,” Atlanta-based accounting and auditing firm Metcalf Davis wrote in a Nov. 27 letter to the agency’s board.

The audit’s findings were presented to AHA’s board of commissioners on Wednesday.

The audit represents the agency’s fifteenth consecutive “unqualified opinion” on its annual audit report, meaning they conformed to generally accepted accounting principles and were presented appropriately.

“The audited financial statements indicate that the Atlanta Housing Authority’s financial position remained strong,” the housing authority said in a statement. “The agency is well-prepared to face the potential headwinds resulting from federal budget deficits or the congressional appropriations process.”

The agency has been in the news this year because of uncertainty surrounding its top management. Last year, chief executive Renee Glover publicly announced that Mayor Kasim Reed’s appointees on the housing board had made it clear they wanted to hire a new CEO. At the time, she said she intended to negotiate an exit.

In September, Glover urged key commissioners to move forward with a severance agreement for her, according to emails obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News through open records requests.

That process appears to be stalled.

Meanwhile, the housing authority’s board of commissioners is getting an infusion of new members after operating at less than full strength for some time.

On Wednesday, the latest member of the board of commissioners — Loretta Young Walker, senior vice president and chief human resources officer for Turner Broadcasting System — was formally introduced. Reed has said he plans to make two additional board appointments soon to fill a vacant seat and an expiring term on the seven member board.

Last year, the AHA worked with more than 21,000 households in metro Atlanta. In financial documents obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the agency pointed to a number of achievements.

About 69 percent of households served by the agency were either compliant with work rules or deferred through a training or educational exception. The agency said a total of 258 new rental units were completed in AHA-sponsored mixed-income communities on the sites of former housing projects. Additionally, private developers used assistance from the AHA to add 126 units of affordable housing around the city.

The agency helped about 550 formerly homeless households with “permanent supportive housing.”

More than 30 low-income, first-time homebuyer received down payment assistance from the agency, which also handed out more than $100,000 in scholarships to students.

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