The county Board of Supervisors Tuesday unanimously permitted transferring two vacant buildings in Nationwide Metropolis from the native chapter of Volunteers of America as a part of a settlement, after an audit discovered unverified spending from that group.
Supervisors additionally permitted $227,000 to buy the buildings positioned on 2131 and 2325 E. Seventh St., and over $1.1 million for renovations. The county plans to make use of the buildings for substance abuse remedy. The VOA chapter beforehand operated a 120-bed alcohol and drug remedy facility on the two properties.
The Volunteers of America Southwest California chapter had contracted with the county to offer numerous behavioral well being providers, together with grownup residential substance use remedy and withdrawal administration.
Based on county officers, the buildings would require as much as $10 million in repairs earlier than they can be utilized once more for public providers, and supervisors must approve any future spending.
A nonprofit group based in 1896, VOA supplies reasonably priced housing and help providers to low-income folks.
Based on a Sunday article within the San Diego Union-Tribune, a 2018 audit discovered lacking documentation and misstatements by the native VOA chapter. Following a evaluate, county officers final yr discovered about $6.5 million in unverified spending, in accordance with the county Communications Workplace.
On Jan. 23, 2020, the county despatched a letter to the previous CEO of the VOA native chapter, Gerald McFadden, saying it was terminating a contract with the group.
The letter signed by John Pellegrino, Buying and Contracting division director, said that audit findings “all signify compelling proof that VOA has not been working in compliance with the authorized necessities of the contract.”
Based on the letter, McFadden was obligated to report “crucial incidents” corresponding to fraud or unethical conduct, and the county had motive to consider he might not have.
Throughout Tuesday’s assembly, board Chairman Nathan Fletcher mentioned the occasions surrounding the VOA contract “are extremely disappointing,” however he was grateful an audit found the monetary issues.
His colleague Terra Lawson-Remer mentioned it could have been higher for the county to recuperate the cash, “however I feel this can be a good resolution given the choices which might be obtainable.”
“It’s actually unhappy that we needed to come to this, nevertheless it’s so essential we maintain entities accountable” if fraud is discovered, Lawson-Remer mentioned.
She added there’s “clearly work to be finished” on the buildings, which have promise and potential.
Luke Bergmann, county Behavioral Well being Companies director, mentioned his workplace will look into tips on how to set up these providers on the Nationwide Metropolis location as quick as doable.
In a press release after the vote, Fletcher mentioned renovating the property “can carry extra beds on-line for people who find themselves battling dependancy … Individuals who want a spot to remain and heal on their street to restoration will quickly have it.”
Barbara Banaszynski, president and CEO for the VOA Southwest chapter, mentioned in an emailed assertion that her group “(appreciates) the county’s help in working via this with us to resolve this concern. We stay up for now having the ability to deal with the growth of VOASW’s providers for the big numbers of these in want in San Diego.”
Metropolis Information Service contributed to this text.