Officials from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development visited Chapel Hill last week after the town’s public housing was graded at 52 out of 100 possible points during a semiannual evaluation.
That score left Chapel Hill in the “Troubled Performer” category of HUD rankings and caused concern among town staff and elected officials.
During the visit last week, it was discovered that a “clerical error” was a “major component” of the low ranking, according to a follow-up email from town manager Roger Stancil to the Chapel Hill Town Council.
The error came from “staff entering one piece of key information in an incorrect box on the reporting form used in early reporting with unaudited numbers.” Stancil wrote that staff would submit the updated correct information and believed that would place the town back into better federal standing.
The clerical error resulted in the town scoring a 2 out of a possible 25 points in the financial section of the score. Staff wrote that the low score was an anomaly, pointing to the previous evaluation where the town scored a perfect 25 out of 25. The town will be implementing several steps to prevent this error in the future, the email said, including independent verification of data input and a calculation prior to the final report submittal to forecast the HUD score.
Stancil wrote when answering a question from a council member asking about the town’s historic performance on these evaluations that the town received a Substandard Performer rating in 2005, a Troubled Performer status in 2013 that was also attributed to a data entry error, and when the town received a Substandard Performer rating in 2014.
The town submitted a recovery plan to HUD officials. Stancil wrote that he believed the town would return to the Standard or High Performer level.
The Town Council is also scheduled to receive a consultant’s report on the town’s Public Housing Master Plan at a meeting on May 2.