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Audit Audit of the Department of Housing and Community Development

The EA program provides shelter to women and families who are homeless and helps them find stable, permanent housing. The audit, which examined the period July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2018, found the agency did not inform women and families living in EA housing of registered sex offenders living or working in the same location.

Organization: Office of the State Auditor
Date published: August 28, 2019

Executive Summary

In accordance with Section 12 of Chapter 11 of the Massachusetts General Laws, the Office of the State Auditor has conducted a performance audit of the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) for the period July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2018.

In this performance audit, we examined DHCD’s administration of its Emergency Housing Assistance (EA) program. Below is a summary of our findings and recommendations, with links to each page listed.

Finding 1

DHCD does not ensure that pregnant women and families in the EA program are aware of sex offenders living and/or working at the same address where they live.

Recommendations

  1. DHCD should notify shelters when an individual in the EA program is a registered sex offender so that the shelters can notify pregnant women and families in the EA program at the same address.
  2. DHCD should adopt a policy that requires it to annually, at a minimum, compare the addresses of the shelters to those of registered sex offenders listed with the Sex Offender Registry Board. If any address matches are found, DHCD should investigate and take the measures it deems appropriate to ensure the safety of the children in the EA program.

Finding 2

DHCD does not effectively monitor the physical conditions of its shelters.

Recommendations

  1. DHCD should establish written policies and procedures that require a periodic (at least triennial) inspection of EA program shelters.
  2. DHCD should establish a process to collect, analyze, and store shelter inspection information in a central database and use this information to manage this process better.
  3. DHCD should establish a policy that requires supervisors to review and sign off on all inspection reports and submit them to DHCD to be entered in this central database before they are delivered to shelter contractors.
  4. Given the inefficiencies we identified in DHCD’s EA program shelter inspection process (e.g., inspecting shelters that were not due for inspection and not inspecting shelters that were overdue), DHCD should take the measures necessary to make this process as efficient as possible and then determine whether more staff resources are necessary to perform the inspections within the prescribed timeline.

Finding 3

DHCD’s controls do not provide for adequate monitoring of case management for pregnant women and families in the EA program who live in shelters.

Recommendations

  1. DHCD should establish written policies and procedures that assign a person to coordinate and monitor the work of contract specialists in evaluating the contracted services performed by shelter contractor caseworkers. The procedures should include a tracking system that follows the corrective action recommendations made to the shelter contractors and the shelters visited.
  2. There should be a standard evaluation report that all contract specialists use in evaluating shelter contractor services.

 

A PDF copy of the audit of the Department of Housing and Community Development is available here.

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