Part of $11 Million in Stimulus Money to Buy Poor Job-Seekers Clothes, Helps Just 2 People

A portion of an $11 million grant to help 400 low-income Detroit citizens purchase “business attire” for job interviews helped exactly two people, a city audit reveals.

“It’s just another example that money is not as much of an issue than managing the money, whether it’s grant or general fund dollars that we have,” said Council President Pro Tem Gary Brown. “We have to find a better way to manage the resources and give Detroiters the value for the tax dollars they deserve.”

Detroit’s auditor general uncovered shoddy record keeping by the Department of Human Services and haphazard use of taxpayers’ funds.   In one instance, a third-party contractor that disbursed $148,000 to a downtown Detroit clothing store didn’t even bother to list the city on the account. 

The Detroit News says the recent stimulus outrage is part of a much broader problem:

The audit is the latest finding against the city’s Department of Human Services, which has been under scrutiny for chronic mismanagement of federal funds. Many of the department’s leaders have departed since an internal investigation was launched last year, including an inquiry into the purchase of $182,000 worth of high-end furniture for a department office. In 2009, the department received more than $11 million in stimulus funding and created a service center. 

The center, at 1970 Larned, included the Customer Choice Pantry, the New Beginnings Clothing Boutique and a call center that had the capacity to service 60,000 families in need. The boutique was to provide business attire for low-income residents for job interviews. 

To receive clothing, residents were required to have a job interview scheduled. According to the audit, the DHS was supposed to help 400 people between October 2010 and September 2011 but instead served only two.

The department responsible has offered no explanation for its failure to provide 400 Detroiters with the promised business attire.


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