City Auditor Mary Hull Caballero slammed the Joint Office of Homeless Services this week for paying a landlord $858,762 to house poor veterans in a squalid, mold-ridden apartment building on Northeast Sandy Boulevard for 16 months.

The problem came to light last year after a building inspector discovered bed bugs, roaches, loads of black mold, faulty plumbing, holes in the walls, and a collapsed ceiling. KOIN TV did a special report on the Sandy Studios in April 2021.

As is customary with investigations like this, Shannon Singleton, interim director of the Joint Office, responded to the auditor, thanking her for her work. As is less customary, Singleton hammered the report for what she said were glaring errors.

“We disagree with some of the statements made regarding the work conducted by our office and provider partners,” Singleton wrote.

Case in point: The auditor wrote that “conditions had been devolving for almost two years without action from the Joint Office.”

Singleton says the Joint Office started working to relocate the veterans in 2020, before the KOIN story and way before the auditor’s report, work that counts as “action.” Singleton went on to say that accountability can be strengthened in Portland “without the inaccurate statements and inflammatory language used in this hotline report.”