The federal grant money is made available to cities across the country to assist homeowners in making upgrades and emergency repairs. The Community Housing Improvement Program is designed to help local governments protect a city's housing stock and protect against letting neighborhoods deteriorate and allowing homes to become abandoned and in disrepair.
Sandusky's CHIP program became rip-off center in the mid-2000s, however, with city-approved contractors taking the money but failing to make repairs, and in dozens of instances, damaging the homes, some beyond repair, and forcing homeowners out of their dwellings.
The city did not respond to complaints from the homeowners for years, and not until after a front-page story about the corrupt practices was published in the Register. After the story published the city finally did take action, spending almost $1 million in local tax funds to repair the damages to the homes caused by the city-approved contractors.
The corruption made the city ineligible for CHIP federal dollars for several years, adding up to a loss totaling about $3 million in funds and penalties. No final accounting of the losses was ever provided by the city of the federal government.
There never was a local criminal investigation despite the losses, and a federal probe, after all these years, remains unresolved and undisclosed.
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