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Cauthen announces new plans for housing policy in Kansas City

City Manager Wayne Cauthen is working with city council members, City staff, non-profit organizations and private citizens to develop a specific plan for how federal housing dollars are spent in Kansas City.

The announcement of a new direction for housing policy comes as Cauthen reports to the city council the steps he is taking to implement the March 24 recommendations of the performance audit of the Department of Housing and Community Development conducted by KPMG.

The audit followed a December 2003 report to the City Manager’s Office by Department of Housing and Community Development staff, concerning unfunded commitments of approximately $5.7 million in obligations for programs and agencies funded by Community Development Block Grant money. As a result of the audit findings, Cauthen directed the staff of the Office of Management and Budget to take control of all Federal Housing and Urban Development funds and contract administration, and oversight of fund reconciliation and fund disbursement.

Today, Cauthen expanded those changes by announcing that the work of the department will be transferred to other departments for the time being. Cauthen said his goal is to streamline the delivery of services and provide better governance and executive leadership of the department’s activities.

“I determined that not only were financial controls weak or non-existent, but also that it serves little purpose to tighten financial controls over grants management without clarity of what we as a City are trying to accomplish. I am not seeking a statement of policy to guide the development of a consolidated plan; rather I am asking that the citizens of this City work with us to develop a specific housing plan,” Cauthen said.

The action coincides with Cauthen’s plans to consolidate City departments and services.

The development of the new housing plan is being facilitated by Terry Gratz, an employee of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Gratz began conducting a comprehensive review of the City’s housing policies in February. The plan is expected to be completed by mid-October, in time for the submittal of the consolidated housing plan next year.

Cauthen also announced the launch of national search for a manager of housing services for Kansas City.

“I believe, with the new direction we are taking, we will be able to recruit an executive who will be energized by the opportunity to improve how housing services are delivered in Kansas City around a mission that has clarity and was built with community support,” Cauthen said.

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