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Metro Newsroom

Mayor Pledges Continued Improvement in Housing & Family Services Dept.

Tuesday February 17, 2009

Read the State Auditor's report  (554kb PDF)

State audit reaffirms problems, challenges; major progress made

Mayor Jerry Abramson today pledged to continue the wholesale improvements underway in the Housing and Family Services Department and to keep working “until we make it right.”

Abramson praised the professional work of State Auditor Crit Luallen, who today released an extensive state audit for fiscal year 2008 that detailed shortcomings in departmental leadership and failure to follow policies and procedures prior to last August when the mayor ordered comprehensive changes throughout the agency.

“I was extremely disappointed by the extent of the problems we found in Housing and Family Services, but I am very pleased with the progress our new team has made in the past six months,” Abramson said. “I am committed to keep working until we make it right.”

In August 2008, Abramson appointed Special Counsel Tina Heavrin to oversee the Housing and Family Services Department as interim director following the resignation of Kimberly Bunton in the wake of inappropriate actions to benefit a relative.

Three weeks later, Abramson named Bob French, a veteran leader of two non-profit affordable housing agencies and former city housing executive, to head the department’s Housing Division.

Abramson directed the new leadership team to conduct a review of the agency and implement immediate improvements. As a result of that review, Housing and Family Services has:

    • retrained, reassigned, and, in some cases, replaced employees
    • strengthened procedures and policies to meet federal and state requirements
    • improved internal and external monitoring
    • moved swiftly to protect federal funds from recapture
    • strengthened relationships with the U.S. Housing and Urban Development agency and non-profit providers

In addition, Abramson has met directly with leaders of the U.S. Housing and Urban Development office to seek advice and help. Last week, the mayor began the first of a series of monthly meetings with HUD’s leadership “to make sure we’re on track.”

Abramson said he will continue to keep citizens and Metro Council leadership informed about the progress underway in the Housing and Family Services Department. Steps include posting the state audit on the city’s website,, and providing the Metro Council with regular updates on Housing and Family Services.

“We still have a lot of work to do,” Abramson said. “But we are committed to restoring the public’s trust and serving the citizens who rely on our services.”