March 27, 2017 (Flint, MI)– Mayor Karen Weaver held a press conference at City Hall Monday to set the record straight after getting word that a federal agency plans to audit dollars spent, as part of the Hardest Hit Fund, to demolish homes located in the City of Flint.
“We received a few media inquiries, so I wanted to respond to the news directly,” said Weaver. “I want it to be clear that this is not a federal investigation on our city. This is completely separate from us.”
Flint’s acting Director of Planning and Development, Suzanne Wilcox, provided even more clarity at the presser.
“The Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHA) is the recipient of funds from the U.S. Department of Treasury through its Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP),” Wilcox explained. “MSHDA sub-grants these funds to applicants in the state of Michigan.”
Wilcox stated no audit agency has spoken to officials of the City of Flint, nor should they.
“The Genesee County Land Bank Authority is the grant applicant, grant recipient, as well as the grant and contract administrator for all Hardest Hit Funds for the City of Flint,” said Wilcox. “All questions regarding the program and funding for the program should be directed to the Genesee County Land Bank.”
According to Flint city officials, the city’s role is limited to communicating priorities regarding the city’s adopted Imagine Flint master plan and implementing the blight elimination framework, as well as standard city processes including inspections, permitting, etc.
The city is not responsible for any of the administrative activities, including submitting the application, conducting procurement and environmental compliance activities, executing, overseeing and administering contracts, submitting requests for reimbursement to MSHDA, reporting, and grant closeout. The Genesee County Land Bank Authority is responsible for all of these tasks.
“The city does participate through support of Hardest Hit Fund applications, and prioritizing property selection consistent with the blight elimination framework,” added Wilcox.
City officials have contacted representatives of the land bank who stated they are confident in their administration of the program and do not expect the Office of the Special Inspector General for TARP to find any of the issues identified previously in the Detroit audit.