DuPage Housing Authority revokes rent subsidies

Three tenants at a senior housing complex in Roselle lost their rent subsidies this week after the DuPage Housing Authority determined they’re too young to receive the assistance.

At least one of the residents also has been hit with a $39,126 bill from the authority.

New leadership at the housing authority has been working to reform the Wheaton-based agency, which mismanaged more than $10 million by failing to follow federal regulations and its own policies.

The changes include complying with a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development requirement that tenants receiving rent subsidies at the Rose Glen apartments in Roselle are at least 62 years old, officials said.

On Thursday, a representative of the company that manages Rose Glen publicly criticized the agency for notifying three tenants that their subsidy payments have been terminated.

“This is just another example of not getting the facts straight before taking action — action that causes irreparable harm to those who don’t deserve to be hurt,” said Jason Racine, executive vice president of The Stough Group.

Racine made his remarks to the housing authority board during the panel’s regular meeting.

He cited the example of a 61-year-old woman who has lived at Rose Glen since November 2007 and received $900 a month in assistance from HUD.

The tenant has an even bigger problem than trying to get enough money to pay her March rent, he said.

Because the woman was 56 when she first moved in to Rose Glen, she is required to reimburse the housing authority for the $39,126 she received in subsidies through the years. The agency could let the woman repay the money though a payment plan.

“How would you feel if your mom got a letter like this?” Racine said. “The fact that the DHA would treat any individual — much less a senior citizen — so callously calls into question its overall good judgment.”

Thomas Good, chairman of the housing authority board, said the situation is “unfortunate.”

“There was a HUD directive to proceed in this manner,” Good said. “The residents in question were not qualified to be on the list in the first place.”

Good said officials will contact other agencies to see if housing is available for the Rose Glen tenants who lost their rent subsidies.

While it’s unclear how the individuals were approved to receive subsidies, Good stressed what happened “does not relate to our current staff.”

The housing authority board was revamped and several staff members were replaced after a series of federal audits found the agency improperly spent more than $5.8 million in federal money and failed to adequately document another $4.7 million.

During the federal scrutiny of the housing authority, it was learned that roughly $2.6 million of the “unsupported” spending mentioned in the audits is tied to the Section 8 contracts for Rose Glen and Darien’s Myers Commons, another senior housing project managed by The Stough Group.

According to federal officials, the DuPage Housing Authority didn’t follow HUD’s program requirements before approving and contracting housing assistance for units at Myers Commons and Rose Glen.

The agency also didn’t administer a waiting list for its program, Instead, it let the project owners and/or managers select the households and didn’t perform quality control reviews of the selection process, HUD officials said.

“It might be time for an accounting of where the responsibility truly lies for all the errors and shortcomings of the past,” Racine said.

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