Apr. 08, 2015

HARRISBURG – Questions raised by state Rep. Tommy Sankey (R-Clearfield/Cambria) concerning state government distribution of federal dollars earmarked for programs to address homelessness in Pennsylvania are being answered. Auditor General Eugene DePasquale has confirmed plans to conduct a performance audit of the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED).

“Guaranteeing the efficient use of this money is not a Republican or Democrat issue – it’s a Pennsylvania taxpayer issue,” Sankey said. “I applaud Auditor General DePasquale’s decision to take a fine-tooth comb through DCED’s oversight practices to ensure government is not picking winners and losers in efforts to assist the homeless.”

The audit will examine the following federally supported programs:

• Emergency Solutions Grant program – Supports local government and emergency shelter efforts to help homeless individuals and families achieve self-sufficiency.

• HOME Investment Partnership Program - Provides municipalities with funding to acquire affordable housing for individuals with low to very low income.

In order to remain eligible for these funds, providers assisting the homeless and housing insecure need to remain “compliant” with a laundry list of government standards. Far too far often, these standards are excessively complicated, with government reapportioning funding to other providers if these standards are not met. Obviously, government must keep strongholds against abuse in place, but as Sankey learned over the last year speaking with those assisting the housing insecure population, the level of reapportionment trending throughout the Commonwealth is concerning.

The audit will focus on recipients’ compliance with program requirements, punitive actions taken as the result of non-compliance and subsequent reallocation of funds.

“No matter the level of government, an elected official’s primary focus should be effective stewardship of taxpayer dollars,” added Sankey. “In this case, we are talking about approximately $20 million meant to help create a pathway to the American dream for less-fortunate individuals and families.”

Sankey has been an active participant in a statewide initiative on studying barriers to self-sufficiency conducted by state House Republicans over the last year.

“When we spend millions of taxpayer dollars on anti-poverty efforts, and still have individuals failing to fulfill their dreams, it’s necessary to study those current structures set in place by government,” added Sankey. “As a member of a three-generation business, I also see too many instances of people being asked to jump through “hoop after hoop,” in order to do things as simple as support their family or accomplish a goal.

“This is not a case of finding money in order to solve a problem – it is a case of finding how money allocated for problem solving is traveling. Auditor General DePasquale and I have seen enough evidence to warrant a closer look, and I am anxious to get back the results of his review.”

Representative Tommy Sankey
73rd District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Scott Little
RepSankey.com / Facebook.com/RepSankey