The Maine Wire has obtained a copy of a letter sent today by U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, asking for an investigation into the recently-reported failures of a Section 8 inspection program at an affordable housing complex in Norway. MSHA contracted Portland-based Avesta Housing for more than $600,000 to administer the program in four counties. Avesta is run by former MSHA deputy director Dana Totman.
From the letter:
“I am writing to request your assistance in investigating the property inspection and fire code enforcement practices for federally subsidized properties in Oxford County, Maine. I have been contact by the Fire Chief of the Town of Paris, Maine, about serious safety violations in units that receive federal payments under the Section 8 program.
I request your assistance to ensure that federal housing subsidies are not supporting properties that violate either Maine fire safety code or HUD’s Housing Quality Standards. More specifically, request that you investigate compliance with the NFPA Life Safety code in HUD-subsidized units and that that you audit property inspection and enforcement practices in Oxford County, Maine, to determine how substandard units received federal support.”
MSHA board member and State Treasurer Bruce Poliquin expressed concern over the delay in response to the problem in Norway. “As a board member of Maine Housing, I’d like to know why the staff learned about problems with the Norway units roughly two years ago, and why we’re only seeing efforts to correct the problem now?”
According to Poliquin, Avesta Housing was paid $619,000 to administer the Section 8 program in York, Cumberland, Androscoggin and Oxford counties. “It doesn’t appear we have been getting our money’s worth.”
More on the Norway issue here.