LUMBERTON — Concerns raised by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development during a review of the Robeson County Housing Authority’s procurement policies and procedures is what prompted a local investigation into Housing Authority operations, county officials now say.
According to a statement issued by a HUD spokesman in Atlanta, HUD’s Greensboro field office initiated a “procurement review” of the Robeson County Housing Authority on Jan. 10. This review included an on-site visit on June 4.
“The findings from the review were provided to the Robeson County Housing Authority on June 30, 2014 and they have 30 days to provide HUD with their response,” the spokesman said.
Ricky Harris, Robeson County’s manager, said Thursday that the local investigation is being led by Patrick Pait, the county’s newly appointed attorney. He said all questions related to the investigation should be forwarded to Pait.
The county attorney on Thursday declined a request by The Robesonian to immediately make public what specific concerns raised by HUD are being investigated. He said the investigation is still in its initial stage, and that information determined not to be confidential will be released to the public as soon as possible.
“I really don’t see anything happening until at least next week,” Pait said.
Pait confirmed Wednesday that the county investigation was launched in response to concerns raised in a recent letter from HUD to Robeson officials.
“Some issues were brought to our attention,” Pait said. “All I will say at this time is that the investigation does not include missing money.”
While they did not say that the probe is centering around issues directly involving the authority’s executive director, Ronald Oxendine, both Pait and Harris told The Robesonian that Oxendine is currently taking some vacation time.
“It is still to be determined the length of the vacation,” Harris said Thursday.
Pait stressed that there has been no time frame placed on the county’s investigation.
“But it will be done sooner than later,” he said.
The Robeson County Housing Authority is responsible for 110 units at Morgan Britt Park in Lumberton; 40 units at Benton Court in Rowland; 100 units at Westgate Terrace in Red Springs; and 40 units at McColl Page Plaza in St. Pauls.