How Many Homeless in the City?

The Coalition for the Homeless is conducting its “Point-in-Time” survey tonight to determine just how many people are homeless in Louisville.

It’s not an exact science, but the organization is fanning out with 60 volunteers to count residents in shelters and camps. Mary Frances Shafer, community coordinator for the Coalition, says she expects that this year’s number will go up from the 961 that were counted a year ago.

Originally, the count was set for late January, but weather caused the delay. The count is required by HUD every two years, but Shafer said the local group chooses to count every year.

“We expect it to go up,” Shafer said, “becuase of our experience of seeing more people in the shelters every night.”

She said the results won’t be known for several weeks.

Big News Day Wrap-up Notes and Giggles

Only the Beginning: That audit on the Housing Department has everyone at City Hall busy. In three weeks, the Metro Council’s Oversight Committee will hold a Q&A with a rep from the Auditor’s Office.

500 Rally for Mountains: Ashley Judd wants to see mountaintop removal ended, and told 500 people at a rally in Frankfort today. She’s supporting Sen. Kathy Stein’s bill blocking coal companies from filling valleys with soil from mountaintops. Media note: photos of Ashley in the H-L, nada in the C-J. [Herald-Leader]

Can’t Stop Laughing: Page One has a post explaining what Gary Tapp’s homo bill really means. [Page One]

Another DTV Note: I know you probably turned off the TV after my appearance on the CW this morning, but later in the Louisville Live show this morning the CW became the first, and only, local station to shut down its analog signal. A farmer in Campbellsville complained, but otherwise everything went smoothly.

Eats Makes a Big List: We’re proud to announce that our own food and dining blog, Ville Voice Eats, has been selected by a significant national food blog as one of the “Best Food Blogs in America.” Congrats to our own David Domine for consistently coming up with great stories.

Fun with Facebook: I just got an e-mail with the subject line: Steve Forbert Sent you a Message on Facebook.  Steve has a new studio album coming out. How cool is that?

Page One & The ‘Ville Voice on TeeVee

Crit Luallen’s damning audit of Metro Housing in Louisville, the gay hate legislation in Frankfort, Francene and the JobJam this Saturday and Jim Bulleit speaking out.

The first few seconds were cut off because the CW apparently can’t figure out how to start at 10:00 A.M. instead of a minute before, killing our TiVo.

Auditor slams Metro Housing Department

State Auditor Crit Luallen has released a report that claims gross mismanagement at the Louisville Metro Department of Housing and Family Services led to questionable spending of millions of dollars in local and federal funds. Luallen used strong words to describe the ineptitude of Metro officials.

“It is unacceptable for any government agency to have such a severe level of mismanagement and poor oversight,” Luallen said in a release. “It’s clear by the types of serious issues and multiple concerns we found in the housing department that the city must take every step necessary to correct them.”

CLICK ABOVE for the full report

Much of the blame is directed toward former director Kimberly Bunton, a Jerry Abramson appointee, who resigned in August after the Courier-Journal discovered that she directed nearly $2,000 in agency funds to her mother.

But according to the state audit, that was the tip of the iceberg of problems in the city department, which was responsible for distributing $18 million in federal funds. Bunton’s incompetence and mismanagement resulted in findings of $459,000 in questioned costs; a loss of $363,054 due to mismanagement and $359,630 in federal funds distributed without proper oversight, according to the audit, which reviewed financing from July 2007 through June 2008.While Bunton was clearly in over her head, the scope of the findings indicate problems in the department are widespread. After Bunton resigned, Abramson brought Tina Heavrin in as interim director.

Problems in the department first made public notice last June when the Courier-Journal reported that $19.5 million in federal housing grants had been awarded to the city but never spent over a 13-year period . Then there was news about a loan on property owned by deputy mayor William Summers IV. He had missed four payments on a loan due to an oversight.

Just last week, WHAS-TV reported that the department had hired Summers’ son for a $64,000 job without posting the position or interviewing other candidates.

The lengthy audit questions everything from staff training to payroll administration to ethics in its report, finding questionable decisions large and small.

For example, it found that a grant intended for reducing poverty and revitalizing low-income  communities was used to pay Bunton’s cell phone bill. Money intended for one purpose was frequently used for other purposes.

In its responses, Metro Government takes the position that it does take the charges seriously and is making changes to improve the functioning of the department, but Luallen’s report shows that it’s got a long way to go.

For those of you unable to access PDF files at work, there’s a quick summary of the audit results after the jump…

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