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Report: Calexico Housing Authority board ‘ineffective'

November 03, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — An independent assessment of the Calexico Housing Authority alleges it found evidence of an "ineffective" board of commissioners, an executive director embroiled in city politics and mismanagement of finances and staffing.

All the findings hamper the federally funded authority's ability to adequately serve the low-income housing residents of Calexico, according to the report from Mitchell and Titus, a New York City accounting firm contracted by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Some of the findings include:

· "Even though the board of commissioners is structured in a manner typical of most housing authorities, its mode of operating is a major hindrance."

· "It appears that the conflict between the board and the executive director began when the executive director (Lupita Rios) ran for a seat on the (Calexico City) Council in the spring of 2000." Rios failed in her attempt.


· "City Council does not understand some of the HUD requirements related to how the authority should operate and would like to use their ability to appoint board members to influence the selection of the executive director."

· "Board oversight is ineffective. … Part of this relates to the perceptions and agendas of the different board members. Currently, some board members feel they can order the executive director or other staff to provide information or complete some task as an individual board member. The powers of the board come from the board as a whole, not as individual members."

The findings will be used by HUD to determine the nature of actions that will be taken against the Calexico Housing Authority, according to the chairman of the authority board, Jesus "Chuy" Solano.

He said the final report from HUD should be received by the authority in a few days.

If HUD acts on each of the recommendations in the report:

· Residents of the Casas del Sol housing projects will not be allowed to buy the homes they now rent until the authority administration and the board are totally revamped.

Mitchell and Titus accountants determined the administration and board are not capable of implementing the guidelines of the federal program that would allow the residents to buy their homes.

If HUD further delays the homeownership program it would be just one more in a string of setbacks for some Casas residents who have waited more than eight years to buy their homes.

· The administration's accounting practices and computer systems will be overhauled.

The authority's administration has not followed federally mandated requirements to file its budgets electronically and has not adequately managed federal grant dollars allocated for a number of housing projects.

· The bylaws of the authority board of commissioners will be rewritten so the board will have a role of setting policy and delegating day-to-day operations to the staff of the administration.

The report found the board has voted on expenditures — including staff trips — that it didn't need to approve.

To rectify the authority's alleged problems, the report recommends increased training for commissioners and administration staffers to better satisfy HUD requirements as to budgets and policy.

Rios would not comment on the report's finding concerning her run for the council but did comment on issues concerning the administration's fiscal accounting.

"That's my responsibility — to make sure that all of those items are taken care of," she said.

Ema Silva, secretary of the authority's resident council, is an outspoken critic of Rios and some of the commissioners.

Asked for a comment on the report, she said, "I've said enough."

Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or

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