Piedmont Community Action held a heated meeting with representatives from the Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity Wednesday night. FOX Carolina reports the state agency, which administers poverty aid programs in South Carolina, had called the meeting to address up to $3 million in federal funds that it says may have been misappropriated.
The funds were granted to PCA for its weatherization program, which helps low-income homeowners pay for repairs or work on their homes that can make the homes more energy-efficient. But the state Inspector General’s Office conducted an audit of the organization this spring, looking at about 10 percent of the homes participating in the program. The audit noted irregularities in the organization’s accounting records back to 2009: missing materials, homes that were in poor shape, and misappropriated money that was missing.
“Some of the work that’s been done on these houses is shoddy. Some people are left worse off than when (PCA) came in,” Office of Economic Opportunity’s executive administrator Bertie McKie said during Wednesday’s meeting.
The agency said PCA will need to repay the missing funds if it cannot account for the discrepancies.
But PCA Executive Director Dr. Willie Ross angrily defended the organization, questioning the state’s motivations. “It is almost like there’s an effort to take and turn our community against this agency for the good that we have done,” he said during the meeting. Ross would not comment with reporters after the meeting.
PCA has been in trouble over missing funds before. The Spartanburg Herald-Journal reports the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services determined last year that the nonprofit misspent federal money, ordering the group to repay $136,000. The organization’s board of directors suspended Ross but voted to reinstate him in February.