Detroit's 'Motor City Match' under federal review

Motor City Match is supposed to help small business thrive in Detroit but the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Department is reviewing whether the program is misusing money meant for business owners.

Motor City Match gives grants to deserving small businesses. But after a routine audit, the program is being reevaluated by HUD.

"Every year HUD field office does a monitor report like an audit and last year's review included Motor City Match," said Arther Jemison with the City of Detroit.

In that audit, it was revealed that Motor City Match did not adequately target low to moderate-income areas. Jemison says that's not true and that the city plans to prove otherwise.

"We're comfortable that we have done this properly, and we're putting documentation together that supports this to HUD," he said.

The problem, it seems, is in the paperwork. HUD is recommending the city work to improve documenting procedures and record-keeping so federal money can be tracked properly.

"The red flag was that they went and read through all the invoices and said, 'We think you need to document this differently or you can do it a different way which requires additional documentation,'" Jemison said.

During the federal review and compliance stage, the city suspended federal funds issued from the program at the request of HUD last month.

HUD officials say their department and the city are working closely together to address these findings 

"They want to make sure that we spent the time, focused and did that," Jemison said.

The program, however, is here to stay. With city council's approval, money from the city's general fund is being used so the program can move forward with less federal funding 

The next winners are expected to be announced in a few weeks and the next round should open this fall.

HUD's Deputy Regional Administrator Jim Cunningham released a statement:

"Following a routine monitoring of Detroit's block grant program, we recommended the City improve its record-keeping and documentation procedures to ensure federal taxpayer dollars are tracked appropriately.  HUD and the City of Detroit are working closely together to address these findings so, together, we can make certain lower income Detroit residents get the full benefit of these funds."

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