Public housing authorities refused to evict an estimated 1,300 “felony fugitives” – including multiple alleged rapists and murderers – from their federally-funded homes, according to a report obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation.
But the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Inspector General (IG) report reviewed by TheDCNF was never meant to be public and was not shared with HUD – the agency that funded the units and oversees local housing authorities.
“Through the vetting process, we determined it wasn’t an appropriate referral to the department,” HUD IG spokesman Darryl Madden told TheDCNF. “It didn’t make it to a final report. It was never forwarded to the agency.”
Approximately 1,300 felony fugitives “wanted for a wide range of felony crimes including rape, murder, aggravated assault, narcotics trafficking, felony theft and fraud charges” lived in federally-funded housing, according to a February 2012 IG report obtained by TheDCNF under the Freedom of Information Act.
“Many of the fugitives had been/are living in HUD funded units for many years,” the report said. (RELATED: Two-Parent Families Get Subsidized Housing By Posing As Single Mothers)
The IG informed the locally-operated Public Housing Authorities (PHA) that fugitives were living in their units, but they chose “not to terminate the subject from the HUD funded program,” the report said.
PHA officials told the IG that “HUD had informed them that it was a PHA’s [sic] discretion as to whether or not to terminate the fugitive felons from the HUD funded program,” the IG wrote.
A federal law found by the IG, however, “calls for the immediate termination of any fugitive felon and probation and parole violator [emphasis theirs],” the report said.
The report suggested HUD tell the PHAs of the law and threaten to reduce funding. HUD should also warn PHA officials that the IG would report them to local authorities “for charges of harboring a felony fugitive,” if the leases weren’t terminated, the IG wrote. But the report was never shared with HUD officials.
“There are some questions about the validity of the data,” Madden told TheDCNF. “I can’t go into all of the details about that, but that’s why it was a ‘draft’ report.”
In fact, the report, which isn’t marked “draft,” wasn’t supposed to be made public, and it’s unclear why it was released to TheDCNF.
“We are doing a review internally to look at that point,” Madden said. “It should not have been released.”
The IG document is categorized as a “Systemic Implications Report (SIR),” which the watchdog uses to point out individual incidents that could be widespread throughout a particular HUD program. The 1,300 fugitives, for example, were limited to Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska, and it’s unclear how many more reside in HUD-funded housing in other states.
It’s HUD’s responsibility, rather than the IG’s, to ensure that fugitives aren’t illegally living in other federally-funded PHAs, according to Madden. It’s unclear if HUD is aware of the problem, since the IG report was never sent to the agency.
“When we have a valid SIR, we officially transmit it to the department,” Madden said.
Regardless, it appears the IG took no additional actions to evict or arrest the fugitives, other than informing local law enforcement.
“We pursue individuals that engage in fraud of HUD programs,” Madden said. “Fugitive apprehension is a role for traditional law enforcement, this wouldn’t come under our authority purview.”
But many crimes associated with the 1,300 fugitives were committed in jurisdictions outside of where the tenant resided, and “economic cutbacks” prevented the agencies that issued the warrants from funding extraditions, the IG report said.
“I think that was an editorial comment on the part of the writer,” Madden told TheDCNF. “If there’s information that comes to our attention that represents a threat to public safety, we’re we’re going to take the appropriate steps to ensure that we get that into the right hands.”
Regardless, the IG report Madden called a “draft” shows local housing authorities didn’t kick the fugitives out of federally-funded housing, and law enforcement couldn’t afford to extradite them. Meanwhile, it’s HUD’s responsibility to ensure this isn’t a nation-wide problem, but it’s unclear if they’re aware of the issue.
It’s unclear if those 1,300 fugitives were ever evicted, extradited or convicted.
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