BELLINGHAM, WA-An extensive audit by the Department of Housing and Urban Development has uncovered 11 violations by the Lummi Tribe, including the possibility that HUD money was paid to the tribe’s gaming-policy coordinator and that ineligible families received housing benefits–-at the expense of families that did qualify.

The audit, which covers 1993 to 1999, has found that the Lummi Indian Business Council, which reports to HUD, overstated its housing stock by 95 units – resulting in nearly $1.28 million in extra funding during the past three years. The audit report also states that tribal housing officials didn’t always verify the income of families applying for HUD assistance, which may have led to ineligible families being admitted into the tribe’s housing program while eligible families were excluded. In addition, the report says Council used $18, 814 from a low-income housing grant to pay the salary and benefits of the gaming-policy coordinator to run the Lummi Casino, which is now defunct.

The report has been forwarded to HUD’s Northwest Office of Native American Programs, which will investigate further and work with the tribe on implementing a corrective action plan. In the meantime, the tribe has been asked to either repay approximately $1.3 million or show documentation that the money was used properly. The money can be recovered by either reducing existing grants or taking funds from future grants. In the last three years alone, the tribe has received $12.4 million from HUD.

Notes HUD Spokesperson Cori Senechal, “The intent here is to get things back on track so that the housing funding that is going to the tribe is used properly and for the benefit of residents on the reservation.”

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