Among the problem spending: a 2010 conference for housing counselors.
"Before homeowners received a single dollar from (the program), housing counselors were treated to an evening reception featuring a carved beef station staffed by a uniformed chef, cake bites and strawberry shortcake martinis," the Office of the Special Inspector General for TARP said Thursday. "The North Carolina agency charged TARP $3,130. Later, a guest speaker lectured on 'Motivation by Chocolate' at a cost of TARP $2,500."
Agency spokeswoman Connie Helmlinger was traveling for a conference Thursday and said the agency wasn't given an advance copy of the report before its public release.
"We will need time to review the entire document and cross-check it against our own data," Helmlinger said in an email. "Once we have a chance to review the report, we will issue a statement."
The money came from the U.S. government's Hardest Hit Fund, which was meant to prevent foreclosures in the wake of the 2008 housing crisis. Nationwide, more than $1 billion was budgeted for state housing agency administrative expenses, the inspector general's office said.
The full report found $411,658 in prohibited travel and conference costs. The inspector general said state agencies across the country are expected to spend another $200 million in administrative expenses over the next two years.
"Any dollar wasted or spent inappropriately is one less dollar for homeowners or taxpayer savings," the organization said in a news release.
The report notes that the TARP program was a massive funding boost for the N.C. Housing Finance Agency, whose broader mission is to finance affordable housing in the state. The agency got nearly $483 million from the Hardest Hit Fund, 38 times the grant funding the agency had previously received, the report states.
Copyright 2023 by Capitol Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.