PEMBROKE — The Lumbee Tribe will reimburse the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development a total of $98,093 for what the federal agency says was misuse of federal housing money. Already the tribe has reimbursed the agency more than $9,000.
The remaining $88,321, according to a tribe spokesman, will be paid from future HUD funding the tribe would normally receive.
“The money will be reimbursed through an off-set of future funding,” Alex Baker said Wednesday. “I have not seen the agreement myself, but I understand that the payment to HUD will be made from future revenues.”
HUD’s Eastern Woodlands Office of Native American Programs conducted an unannounced on-site financial audit of tribal programs in March and found that the tribe should return more than $114,500 in housing money that had not been spent in accordance with federal regulations.
On June 10, the tribe reimbursed the agency $9,771 for lease over payments. Tribal and federal officials continued to negotiate the audit’s findings in June and July, and in August an agreement was made to trim the tribe’s remaining debt to about $88,400.
“After negotiations with the Office of Native American Programs, I am pleased to announce that they have an agreement involving findings related to recent on-site review by ONAP officials,” Sharon Hunt, the tribe’s chairwoman said in a statement. “… Their acceptance of our repayment plan now closes this ordeal for the tribal government and allows us to move forward.”
Attempts to reach HUD officials for comment were unsuccessful.
At the time the HUD audit results became public earlier this year, Purnell Swett was tribal chairman. He resigned the tribe’s chief leadership position in May, citing health reasons.
After Hunt, the tribe’s vice chair, replaced Swett as the tribe’s leader, the tribe submitted to HUD an official response to the agency’s March findings.
The March audit was conducted after complaints about the tribe’s management of funds received under the federal Indian Housing Block Grant program. The Lumbee Tribe received about $14.25 million for housing programs in 2010.
According to HUD, the review was limited to specific allegations made by individuals. Allegations included: a tribal administrator had been hired by the tribal chairman at a salary not approved by the Tribal Council; prior to the hiring of Rose Marie Lowry-Townsend as tribal administrator she was a consultant to the tribe at $1,000 a day; an excessive amount of Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act money was being spent for consulting services; members of the Tribal Council were being reimbursed for unnecessary and unreasonable travel expenses; and office space for the Veterans Affairs Office at the Angel Exchange was rented at an unreasonable cost.
Other allegations looked into by HUD officials included that one Tribal Council member, Terry Campbell, was allowed to bid on and receive an inordinate number of home rehabilitation contracts without competition, and that one contractor, Metcon Inc., of Pembroke, was awarded construction contracts without competition.
HUD officials made it clear in their original report that there was no evidence to substantiate allegations made against Terry Campbell or Metcon.
The veterans office became a non-issue after its location was changed.
— Staff writer Bob Shiles can be reached at (910) 272-6117 or firstname.lastname@example.org