Former Safelite CEO John Barlow is in the news again. He is vehemently disputing a claim that his nonprofit Naples, Fla., housing company had any deficiencies in compliance with grant requirements. The nonprofit, Housing Opportunities Made for Everyone (HOME), sought to offer housing to low-income families. It was founded in 2008.
“As a member of the board of directors of a nonprofit that assisted the community in providing quality affordable housing at a time when home prices had significantly increased in our area, I vehemently dispute any allegation or innuendo that any grant money was misused by anyone in our organization,” Barlow says.
“The community benefited from our efforts and we are confident that the claims of the Clerk of Court, whom I recently opposed in an election and who is now raising these claims more than three years after our project was completed, will prove to be absolutely without merit,” he adds.
“In addition to the lack of documentation on work performed, the audit identified numerous conflicts of interest among HOME officers,” according to a report in the Naples News.
“In July 2008, Barlow submitted an application to the county, asking for $840,000 in federal grant money to purchase, refurbish and sell foreclosed homes to low and very low income families,” according to the newspaper report. “Two months later, commissioners voted to give HOME roughly $427,000 in U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development money. The next year, commissioners approved giving HOME another $200,000 in state housing funds.
“But in the nearly two years it took HOME and its contractors to furnish 13 homes—some of which were purchased for less than $60,000—they more than doubled in value, out of reach for low-income families,” writes Aisling Swift in the article.
The audit alleged that HOME used federal grant money to reduce the selling price through buy-down financing not approved by commissioners instead of purchasing or refurbishing homes.
Barlow reportedly told auditors that he resigned from HOME in December 2008 after a conflict of interest was discovered. A work bid allegedly went to Boran Craig Barber Engel Construction Co. Melvin Engel served as HOME’s director, president and CEO.
“Records show he (Barlow) rejoined in 2010 after work was completed,” according to the report.
The Collier County Circuit Clerk of Courts Dwight Brock plans to take action.
He says, “The housing company was set up to assist people with low-income housing. We audited the compliance of that with the requirements of the grant and found some deficiencies. We turned the audit over to Collier Board of County Commissioners and I will be referring it to other agencies to do what they wish.”
Brock successfully ran against Barlow in an election for the Collier County Clerk of Circuit Courts in 2012.
Barlow retired from Safelite in 2003, after working there for 12 years, the last six of which were spent as CEO.