Morning Brief: Upset Over Home Purchase Program

Last month the D.C. Council voted to suspend $11 million of the Home Purchase Assistance Program's $34 million budget -- a popular housing program that helps residents with down payments and closing costs. On Tuesday, the council heard directly from those affected.

Dana Grinage, whose voice cracked, told council members she had come tantalizingly close to owning a home and had the opportunity taken away by their decision.

"I did everything that was asked of me," Grinage said during a committee hearing Monday.

Grinage's application was stalled, with about 250 others, after the D.C. Council voted last month to suspend the $11 million of HPAP's funds. At the time, council members did not know that Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's administration planned to propose redirecting an additional $11 million in HPAP funds to other projects.

The council's vote all but suspended the program.

In other District news, a report investigating last year's $48 million D.C. tax office embezzlement scheme was released.

The report found that tax manager Harriette Walters was able to embezzle more than $48 million over two decades largely because a "culture of apathy and silence" pervaded the District government's finance office.

The 122-page document was the culmination of a year-long investigation by the law firm WilmerHale, which was hired by the D.C. Council to conduct an independent review of the scandal.

And in Prince George's county news, some officials in charge of finding a new owner for the county's hospital system said yesterday that there are bidders interested in buying the facilities, and hope to bring the General Assembly a plan for the sale before the end of next month's legislative session.

By Alejandro Lazo  |  December 16, 2008; 9:08 AM ET  | Category:  Economy Watch , Morning Brief
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