• Emergency meeting held after Cocoa Housing Authority shakeup


    COCOA, Fla. - Days after the feds took over the Cocoa Housing Authority, an emergency meeting was held to calm residents' fears and acknowledge a $1.3 million debt.

    The former board of commissioners is out and receiver Karen Jackson Sims is in, and one of her first orders of business was to explain HUD's takeover of the Cocoa Housing Authority.

    The issue that brought the situation to a head dates back to 2006. Then, a HUD audit found the Cocoa Housing Authority improperly used $1,301,523 of HUD funds for unauthorized pre-development and development expenses.

    But the most recent board said it was never provided with the source documentation for that 2006 debt.

    That same HUD audit found the authority had not adopted corrective measures to address the problem.

    The Cocoa Housing Authority's director was removed from his post earlier this week and removed from the property.

    The Housing Authority’s current issues date back years, a point highlighted by Antionette Starling, whose husband was removed as director of the Cocoa Housing Authority earlier this week  when he was trespassed from the property.

    “’Let me make this perfectly clear, I, Marc Starling, did not manage any funds. I was not here or an employee at CHA in 2006, when the alleged $1.3 million was mismanaged,’” she said on behalf of her husband.

    Mismanagement is just one of the allegations made by HUD auditors. They also accused the Cocoa Housing Authority of failing to adopt measures to correct the problem.

    The former board said it never received proper documentation of that debt. The money would be used to assist roughly 200 Brevard County Housing Authority families.

    “It is our intent to turn the situation around as quickly as we can and return the Cocoa Housing Authority to local control,” said Sims.

    HUD has said the Housing Authority has the $1.3 million available. Now that the debt has been acknowledged, the next step for the board is to approve payment.

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    Emergency meeting held after Cocoa Housing Authority shakeup