[Hpn] Suffolk Homeless Shelter Target Of State Police Investigation

William Charles Tinker wtinker@metrocast.net
Wed, 1 Jun 2005 04:27:49 -0400


http://home.hamptonroads.com/stories/story.cfm?story=87166=42016

Suffolk homeless shelter facing new scrutiny

By AARON APPLEGATE
The Virginian-Pilot 

June 1, 2005

SUFFOLK - The Suffolk Shelter for the Homeless, a target of a state police
investigation and in danger of losing major chunks of its funding next year,
is being scrutinized by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community
Development.

 An administrator for the department, which partners with state and federal
agencies to aid low- to moderate-income people, said Tuesday that staff
members are coming to Suffolk on June 22 to meet with shelter officials to
review how state-allocated money was spent.

Using money from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development , the
state agency gave the city's only homeless shelter $28,800 this fiscal year
and has earmarked $39,600 for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.

"We want to ensure that the reports they gave us are correct and the
expenditures valid," said Harry Miles, housing program administrator for the
department.

The new inquiry is the latest in problems and setbacks surrounding the
shelter , which serves Suffolk, Franklin and Isle of Wight and Southampton
counties. The shelter's executive director, Terry Miller , quit two weeks
ago after being asked to provide details for $12,491 in mileage expenses for
which she was reimbursed between July 1, 2003, and June 30, 2004. The
homeless shelter, on Finney Avenue near downtown, is also in jeopardy of
losing close to half its funding for the next fiscal year.

City officials have questioned some of the shelter's policies and
record-keeping, and said they may pull contributions .

The city's Redevelopment and Housing Authority has also said it plans to
yank its funding, but not because of any problems . Board members cited
their own tight budget in not including their annual $25,000 contribution to
the shelter in their budget for next year.

Officials with the Virginia State Police said last week that they are
investigating the shelter, but would not be specific . Investigators will
meet with shelter officials this week, Sgt. D.S. Carr said. On Tuesday, Carr
called the investigation an "inquiry" based on a complaint received by the
State Police. He would not say who filed the complaint.

Members of the shelter's board of directors have not commented on Miller's
departure or on the State Police investigation.

City officials did not allocate money to the shelter from the HUD-funded
Community Development Block Grant program for next year. This year, the
shelter got $65,000 from the program.

City officials also said that before they give the shelter the city's
budgeted contribution of $33,000 for next year , they want shelter leaders
to come up with a clear policy stating that the 36-bed facility will stay
open during holidays, get a new executive director and clear up concerns
about financial record-keeping.

Reach Aaron Applegate at (757) 222-5555 or  aaron.applegate@pilotonline.com.

Copyright 1993-2005, HamptonRoads.com / PilotOnline.com