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Some GHURA tenants eluded background check

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SOME tenants of federal housing programs managed by the Guam Housing and Urban Renewal Authority have evaded criminal background checks due to the untimely release of police clearances, according to an independent auditor’s report.

“Compliance with such requirements is necessary for GHURA to comply with application requirements to that program,” stated the audit report by J. Scott Magliari & Co. “Police clearances were requested; however, responses were not received in a timely manner.”

GHURA administers the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Section 8 Voucher Program and public housing assistance.

In addition to the income and asset requirements to qualify for the federal programs, prospective and current tenants are subject to strict screening policies regarding criminal activity, alcohol and drug abuse.

GHURA’s own policy for admissions and continued occupancy requires that each adult tenant be checked for possible histories of physical violence, drug-related activity, sex offenses, and other criminal activity “that would adversely affect the health, safety or well-being of other tenants or staff or cause damage to property.”

But the Magliari audit found that police clearances were not obtained for eight of 69 tested files under the public housing program and nine of 69 tested files under the Section 8 program.

Coordinate

The auditor recommended that GHURA coordinate with law enforcers regarding requests for police clearances and additional follow-up procedures.

In response, GHURA said internal procedures are in place to ensure police clearances are obtained promptly.

“Unfortunately, internal issues which impede in the timely submission of police clearances being experienced by the Guam Police Department are beyond GHURA’s control,” the agency said.

“In the past five years, GHURA has been quite diligent in working collaboratively with the Guam Police Department by providing essential resources that included personnel and access to a computer system,” GHURA said.

The agency said police clearances were eventually obtained for nine Section 8 tenants during the review period.

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