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Housing authority examining draft audit by HUD

| Friday, March 30, 2001, 12:00 p.m.

The Pittsburgh Housing Authority is reviewing a draft audit from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and could have a response for the federal agency by mid-April, authority officials said Thursday.

HUD, in turn, could have a final draft of the audit in Pittsburgh by the end of April, but that timetable is fluid, according to the authority.

'We are working with the IG's (Inspector General) office to come up with a mutually agreeable timeline,' said H. Rainbow Lin, chief financial officer for the authority.

Thomas Hardiman, attorney at Reed Smith Shaw & McClay, which is representing the Pittsburgh Housing Authority in the audit, said the agency received the draft report March 21.

Under federal guidelines, Hardiman said he could not disclose the contents of the draft report, nor could he provide any characterization of it. He said the final report, though, will be available to the public.

The day after receiving the report, the authority board renewed its contract with Reed Smith to provide assistance in responding to the audit.

On Monday, Executive Director Stanley Lowe announced his resignation, although he has said his departure is unrelated to the audit.

Lowe, who has been with the authority since 1994, will join the Washington, D.C.-based National Trust for Historic Preservation next month as vice president for community revitalization. He also accepted a position with the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation to serve as vice president of preservation programs.

The draft audit has been expected to take a critical look at the authority.

The authority has been under fire recently because of projects running over cost and afoul of federal housing guidelines and procedures. In 1999, a smaller HUD audit found that the authority improperly spent $711,000. The money is being repaid by deducting funds from future federal grants.

Last month, Pittsburgh City Council asked Controller Tom Flaherty to audit the authority.

Anabell Kinney, manager auditor from the Controller's Office, said representatives of the controller met last week with officials of the housing authority. Kinney said she is arranging another meeting.

'Things are starting to move along,' she said.

The Controller's Office will look at the changes the authority put in place last year. HUD officials have said the measures were put in place to improve the local operation. Lin said the agency began training employees in July on federal and state procurement requirements.

Anthony Todd Carlisle can be reached at acarlisle@tribweb.com or (412) 320-7824.

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