CALL 6: IHA defends $1,100 office furniture purchase while thousands remain on housing waiting lists

INDIANAPOLIS -- A controversial purchase at the Indianapolis Housing Agency office has people concerned why their tax dollars are going to buy furniture when there are still thousands of people on a housing waiting list across the city.

A concerned citizen first noticed the purchases at the IHA main office: a new leather love seat, two leather chairs, a corner table and a coffee table.

The total cost was around $1,100, but with the agency’s always shrinking federal budget was it the right way to spend those tax dollars?

“It was the right time to buy the furniture that we purchased. We were considering the comforts and safety of our residents as they come to our officers for difficult situations,” said Duane Ingram, IHA Asset Management Director.

He said the office did not have enough regular chairs in its inventory to put in the waiting area, so the purchase was made to make a comfortable place for their clients.

“We did it because it was a necessity,” said Ingram.

Call 6 Investigates has learned the purchase was in compliance with agency rules and below budget. The money for the chairs and tables was not taken from the same budget that funds the housing vouchers – which has a waiting list in the thousands.

An IHA spokesperson provided the following statement: 

"Before we made the decision to purchase this furniture all avenues were explored.  The department looked at office furniture catalogs and considered all options, but there was $1,200 in the approved budget for furniture.  In all 16 of the IHA apartment communities, the leasing offices have quality furniture in their reception/waiting areas.  The agency considering purchasing furniture similar to what the sites have, but that was cost prohibitive.  There are a lot of residents who meet with Director Ingram and his staff for one-on-one conferences so last year the COO approved a line item for the purchase of furniture in the 2018 budget.  When the director was ready to make the purchase this year, the prices had increased and exceeded what Director Ingram had budgeted. With this in mind, the department found a new vendor with pricing that fell within the authorized budget.  When the furniture which included two chairs, one small sofa, and two tables for only $1,000 was identified the purchase was made. Also, the company did not accept PO's, so Director Ingram consulted Diane Padgett who authorized the use of the IHA credit card."

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