Habitat for Humanity Admits Southern California Wildfire Donations Misspent

Wednesday, 19 Oct 2011 05:02 PM

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San Diego Habitat for Humanity acknowledges that donations to help victims of deadly wildfires in 2007 were spent on other purposes. The admission is the nonprofit’s latest response to lingering questions about what happened to more than $700,000 donated to help the victims, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Habitat executive Chris Marek said the staff wrongly deposited wildfire relief donations into a general restricted account rather than a fund strictly earmarked for fire victims.

“There was no maliciousness here, but it was a complete lack of understanding on how restricted accounts work,” he said. “Donor funds were not used for donor intent.”

Three months ago, Habitat officials released a letter from an Orange County accounting firm that concluded that the wildfire donations were not missing and said the case was closed.

That letter didn’t satisfy county San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacob, who complained at the time that Habitat needed to explain in fuller detail why no new homes were built with the donations.

After meeting with Habitat officials Tuesday, Jacob said, “The meeting confirmed what I have long believed: The organization botched their mission after the fires and the financial records are evidence of that.”

Jacob commended Habitat for admitting its mistakes but told the Union-Tribune that these are “very egregious errors” and that an “organizational overhaul” is needed.


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