State inspector general to probe problems with housing rehab

The township is trying to rectify the problems.
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- The Pennsylvania inspector general has been asked to look into problems with the Shenango Township Housing Rehabilitation Program.
State Rep. Frank LaGrotta's office received word Monday that the Department of Community and Economic Development has turned the matter over to the office run by Inspector General Donald L. Patterson.
LaGrotta started receiving complaints about the program last year from residents who contended shoddy work had been done on their homes. State money is given to Shenango Township, which then allots about $12,000 to refurbish homes of elderly and low-income residents. Work is done on about 10 homes each year.
The Vindicator chronicled problems of some of the homeowners in its March 5 edition. The problems included leaky roofs and improperly installed windows.
The homeowners have said that township officials have contacted them and are attempting to rectify the problems since LaGrotta and The Vindicator started looking into the matter.
Rob Ratkovich, New Castle City Council president and maintenance director of the Lawrence County Housing Authority, is in charge of the program for the township.
Slow response
LaGrotta met with the representatives from the Department of Community and Economic Development last week to discuss why that agency did not react quickly when he reported the complaints last year.
According to LaGrotta, a DCED investigator contacted only one of three people who made complaints to the legislator's office and then issued a report about the program looking at the years 1998 through 2002. LaGrotta said all of the complaints he received were for work that occurred after 2003.
A statement from LaGrotta's office said that the inspector general has been asked to investigate whether there was any wrongdoing by the state agency or local government.

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