A million bucks -- blown on a project that never got off the ground.
Nearly $200,000 for another project -- wasted, as well.
More than $5 million spent on code enforcement -- no justification for it.
These are just a few of the taxpayer-funded disasters made by the city of Fresno's housing division over the past three years, according to a federal investigation.
The 29-page report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development describes a richly funded office whose staff had limited grasp of the rules and got little oversight from City Hall's top management.
City officials say things aren't as bad as HUD's triennial report suggests. But, they admit, they're bad enough to spark a major shake-up in how City Hall does housing.
Claudia Cazares has resigned as manager of the Housing and Community Development Division and no longer is with the city.
The housing division now reports to Assistant City Manager Renena Smith instead of downtown revitalization czar Craig Scharton, who has moved to a new job as business development director in City Manager Mark Scott's office.
And just about every housing decision now gets close HUD scrutiny as the feds and City Hall work hand-in-hand to fix things.
Scott said he, as the city's chief operating officer, takes responsibility for the mess. He said the problem was caused in part by the need to prioritize during a financial crisis that cut a wide swath through the city's payroll, including the ranks of top management. He said he and Mayor Ashley Swearengin spent much of their energies over the past 30 months trying to keep the city out of bankruptcy court.
(Mark Scott's response letters to HUD)
But the big problem is an unfocused city housing policy that was allowed to just drift along, catching City Hall's attention here or there but always receding into the background when something seemingly more pressing came up.
"We've had objectives, but we set the objectives so broadly that they didn't really focus anything," said Scott, who doubles as the city's planning director. "We've brought a project in here, we've brought a project in there. But nobody could see what the overall objective of all this is."
Scharton said HUD auditors should have interviewed the HUD executives who routinely visited Fresno to praise the housing division for its good work in places like downtown's Lowell neighborhood.
"People trying to make change were patting us on the back," Scharton said.
City Council members were briefed a few months ago on the HUD report in closed session.
"Mark is overwhelmed -- there's no planning director and he's stretched real thin," said Council Member Lee Brand, the housing division's harshest critic for the past four years. "He doesn't have qualified people who can do the job. They make decisions on rah-rah, not facts and figures. This is the result."
The HUD report is a prime example of government gobbledygook.
Investigators "identified several administrative and program management issues which will be shared with you," Maria Cremer, the San Francisco-based director of HUD's Office of Community Planning and Development, wrote in an Aug. 17 cover letter to Scott.
That apparently is the extent of HUD's outrage -- at least in print.
The report itself, though, suggests a peeved federal agency.
HUD investigators were in Fresno for a week in late May. They dug into the city's handling of three sources of housing money: Community Development Block Grants, the Home Investment Partnership Program (called HOME funds) and the Neighborhood Stabilization Program.