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IRVINE : Funds for Housing Agency Are on Hold

Orange County Focus

January 14, 1993|TOM McQUEENEY

The City Council this week awarded the scandal-tainted Irvine Temporary Housing agency $10,000 in operating funds but delayed giving an additional $406,000 approved earlier.

The three voting members of the council agreed Tuesday night to allocate the smaller amount to keep the 4-year-old charitable organization alive, but said they will await the results of an audit and investigation before granting more money.

Irvine Temporary Housing Inc. has been under intense political and regulatory scrutiny since last summer when it fired its executive director and called police to investigate possible illegal use of agency funds. The nonprofit agency uses federal and city funds and charitable contributions to provide temporary shelter and financial counseling to families with short-term money problems.

Board members of the organization discovered alleged discrepancies in the accounting records, and in June fired Executive Director Clyde E. Weinman. Police launched a months-long investigation and arrested Weinman in November. Weinman has been charged with forging board members' signatures on agency checks and skimming at least $81,000 for his personal use.

Weinman, who has pleaded innocent to the charges, faces a court hearing today.

The City Council voted 3 to 0 to decide on the $406,000 at its Feb. 23 meeting. Councilwoman Paula Werner abstained from the voting on the advice of the city attorney. Her husband is a former Irvine Temporary Housing board member. Councilman William A. (Art) Bloomer was absent.

At the Feb. 23 meeting, the city expects to have results of an audit to help show whether the agency is financially viable, City Manager Paul O. Brady said in recommending that the council take no action yet on the $406,000.

The council awarded the $406,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant funds last year. But the city, which administers the program, froze the money after the police investigation began.

The agency hopes to use the money to buy three more condominiums to be used as temporary shelter, board Chairman Mark E. Simmons told the council. The agency now rents six apartments and owns two condominiums and two converted farmhouses.

Councilman Barry J. Hammond said he remains concerned about the agency's future.

"I can't move ahead right now to grant the $406,000," Hammond said. "There's just no way."

Councilwoman Christina L. Shea suggested that the board change its policies and limit the number of years board members may serve in order to keep tighter reins on its paid staff.

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