The Wahiawa senior facility at the center of a federal probe into $8 million in potentially misused grant funding has seen a “steady increase” in the number of people who use the center and should soon reach its benchmarks, according to the city.

Budget and Fiscal Services Director Mike Hansen sent a letter and a quarterly on-site monitoring report of ORI Anuenue Hale to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development July 31.

The quarterly report is the latest in a protracted back-and-forth with the federal government as the threat of losing $7.9 million hangs over Honolulu Hale. ORI Anuenue Hale, referred to in the report as ORIAH, was criticized for an exceedingly low usage rate despite the heavy investment of federal funds.

ORI’s wellness center was still used less in June than the city and ORI had promised it would, but not by much, and a trendline included in the quarterly report shows the standard of 50 elderly and developmentally disabled adults each day. In June, the city’s report estimates, the ORI wellness center averaged 48.3 daily users. For the quarter ending June 30, the average was 43.7 daily users.

“The City believes that ORIAH has increasingly demonstrated that it is capable of achieving the proposed utilization benchmark of the Wellness Center and is striving to meet and exceed those expectations,” the report says.

ORI met a different benchmark, averaging 29.7 overnight users of Camp Pineapple 808 during the quarter and 44 per night in June. The threshold was 25 nightly users. ORI drew criticism from HUD for renting out the facilities to groups that were not entirely elderly or developmentally disabled.

“It should also be noted that despite several challenges that ORIAH has faced during the past year, in particular the loss of its Chief Operating Officer, who has not yet been replaced, ORIAH has remained committed to serving the target community,” the report says. “ORIAH has steadily increased its utilization of both the Wellness Center and the Camp Pineapple 808 facilities during the year and by all accounts appears to be achieving an eligible CDBG national objective.”

It remains to be seen if ORI’s efforts will be enough to satisfy HUD and keep the money from being recouped from City Hall. In the days that followed the city’s quarterly report submission, HUD said it needed time to review the document before commenting.

Read the full letter and attachments here:

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