DHCD joins in homeless shelter investigation

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 25, 2005

Despite an on-site visit this week, the Department of Housing and Community Development will continue to withhold more than $72,000 in funding from the Suffolk Shelter for the Homeless.

The state agency spent Tuesday reviewing the facility and financial records of the 36-bed shelter in downtown Suffolk, said DHCD spokeswoman Nikki Nicholau. The visit stemmed from the Virginia State Police’s ongoing audit of shelter’s finances and abrupt resignation of shelter’s executive director Terry Miller last month.

&uot;The audit is still up in the air at this time,&uot; said Nicholau. &uot;Things are pending while we wait for more information from the shelter.&uot;

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DHCD has suspended releasing its funding allocation to the homeless shelter until the investigation into its fiscal problems have been resolved, he added.

Specifically, the department is waiting for the results of an independent external audit commissioned by the shelter’s board of directors. DHCD expects to have that audit in hand by July 30.

&uot;It is an unfortunate series of things that have happened at the shelter,&uot; Nicholau said. &uot;We understand that it’s the only shelter in the area. We have to make sure the money is expended appropriately.

&uot;Our people were very impressed with the board’s commitment to trying to make things right.&uot;

Lt. Steve Chumley, who is overseeing the state police’s criminal investigation into the homeless shelter’s financial records, said his agency is also waiting for additional data from the shelter. He also refused to elaborate, other than to say the investigation is several weeks from completion.

Although James Caton, a spokesman for the shelter’s board of directors, confirmed that state officials visited the shelter, he declined additional comment.