INDIANAPOLIS -- Days before a federal audit was to begin, one of the Indianapolis Housing Agency's top administrators spent $1,100 to take employees on a golf outing to Top Golf in Fishers.
The four-hour event on September 14 was promoted as a team building event.
The 15 people that went included the agency's apartment managers and their boss, Duane Ingram. The all-inclusive event included golf and food like chicken tenders, pulled pork, chips, and sodas.
While $1,100 may not seem like a lot of money for a multi-million dollar organization, it matters to 73,000 impacted by a housing waiting list because there isn't enough federal funding for housing or enough homes for the people who need it.
That waiting list information was shared with IHA Commissioners days before the outing took place in Hamilton County,
The agency says federal funds were not used and released this statement:
"Regarding the staff retreat attended by IHA managers, there were several variables including availability, cost and meeting space needed for the activities planned for the afternoon. After researching several venues that met our criteria, Top Golf presented the best option for our needs."
The Indianapolis Housing Agency apparently overlooked the 13 city golf courses which make up Indy Parks when planning their outing.
Call 6 Investigates did some price checking for a golf trip on a Friday afternoon just like IHA took.
Here's what we found:
- At the Coffin Golf course located at 2401 Cold Spring Road, you could play nine holes for just over two hours and get a lunch that includes a hot dog, chips and a drink. The price for fifteen people would come to about $505.
- An indoor experience is available at Riverside Golf Academy at 3702 North White River Parkway for much less than Coffin. The experience could cost between $100 - $200 for the group plus food at $105 which would be about $305. This facility doesn't allow outside drinks but permits outside food if its pre-arranged and a license is provided. So if IHA didn't want the concession food and spent money on a private caterer, the total price would still be cheaper than the $1100 spent.
- There are 11 other golf courses in the city, and their prices vary but for the most part are cheaper than a private facility. It's also possible that Indy Parks could have offered a discount to the group if they had made arrangements.
Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett couldn't comment on this trip since he had nothing to do with it, but he says he's looking for new leadership to lead the agency.
"That's why special care is being taken to make sure that all times IHA maintains that standards that we expect of a public housing agency of its size and scope," Hogsett said. "I take it very seriously, and I hope new leadership, new energy, urgency to the people of Indy its serves.
"We're engaged not only in a leadership change, a CEO, but also a COO that will be hired when a CEO is secure. So we are mindful of some of the issues that have come up over the last couple of weeks."
RTV6 also reached out to the former executive director of the Indianapolis Housing Agency Bud Myers - who retired last month after nearly 18 years on the job - and asked if the golf outing spending was a good use of agency dollars.
"I can't do that at this point because I'm not at the agency," Myers said. "You need to ask them. I can't help you with that. I can't help you with that."
When asked about the funding for the trip, the Indianapolis Housing Agency in an email sent the following:
"All Director’s budgets are funded through the Central Office Cost Center (COCC) which covers the administration of the IHA. COCC is funded by management fees received from the properties and other administrative fees charged. Because the money comes from fees and not directly from HUD, the funds are not considered federal funds."
An IHA spokesperson said the man who organized the outing, Duane Ingram, was unavailable to interview for the story.
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