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San Francisco housing nonprofit HomeRise under scrutiny for "wasteful" spending of city funds

PIX Now Afternoon Edition 4-2-2024
PIX Now Afternoon Edition 4-2-2024 06:16

A San Francisco nonprofit with the stated purpose of helping the homeless find housing is under scrutiny after a city audit described its use of public funds as "wasteful" and "uncontrolled."

Concerns about HomeRise's financial activities date back several years. The San Francisco mayor's office in a press release said that by fiscal year 2020-21 various city departments had "concerns about HomeRise's performance and viability."

Text that can be found on the homepage of the HomeRise website notes that the organization's aim is "developing and managing high quality supportive housing and providing services to individuals, seniors and families experiencing homelessness."   

The audit states the nonprofit's use of city funds on "unallowed or questionable costs" may have taken money away from intended services and those who needed it.

The Mayor's Office of Housing and Community Development and the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing previously told nonprofit leadership about the concerns regarding its fiscal operations. But in June 2021, the issues appeared again, and it prompted the HSH to send a corrective letter to HomeRise. 

After various visits with leadership, an audit was officially requested in early 2022.

In part, the audit sought to investigate how the nonprofit budgeted city funding. However, in trying to investigate, the audit states that they could not get a clear understanding of the nonprofit's spending due to poor record keeping and the difficulty of finding certain documents.

But it did find that most of the grant costs went to staff salaries. 

HomeRise City Audit
An audit by the city states staff salaries took up most of the grant costs at HomeRise. San Francisco Office of the Controller

"We could not determine with certainty the magnitude of HomeRise's inappropriate spending or how many unallowable and inappropriate charges HomeRise submitted to the City for reimbursement," the audit states. 

The mayor's office said it will take some time for the nonprofit to come into full compliance, but that it is already working hand in hand with HSH and MOHCD.

"HSH and MOHCD have already started to see improvements in the organization's fiscal and personnel management and are confident that HomeRise's new leadership team can bring the organization back into compliance and secure its financial footing," the mayor's office said in a press release.

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