Officials at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development let more than 25,000 families who earned too much to qualify for public housing, an error that will cost $104 million over the next year, according to a report by HUD’s Office of Inspector General.
HUD is supposed to move families who exceed income limits into the unassisted housing market, but HUD wasn’t doing that, instead keeping thousands of families who are eligible for public housing perhaps literally out in the cold.
That failure, the IG found, means HUD will pay $104.4 million for public housing for families who aren’t even eligible in the next year. The majority of those 25,226 families have earned more than the maximum income for over a year.
“The 15 housing authorities that we contacted choose to allow over-income families to reside in public housing,” the IG found. “HUD did not encourage them to require over-income The 15 housing authorities that we contacted choose to allow over-income families to reside in public housing. HUD did not encourage them to require over-income families to find housing in the unassisted market. As a result, HUD did not assist as many low-income families in need of housing as it could have.”
HUD Inspector General David A. Montoya, who looked into the “over-income” problem at the request of Rep. David P. Roe, R-Tenn., isn’t calling on HUD to eliminate the problem. The IG report said it’s “reasonable” to have some families over the income limit, but HUD needs to come up with a maximum number for that.
Eligibility for public housing is determined by HUD, which currently sets its income limits at up to 80 percent of the metropolitan area’s median household income.
In Washington, D.C., for example, with one of the highest median household incomes in the nation, a family of four can earn up to $68,000 and still qualify for public housing. A single person can earn up to $47,600 — more than many college graduate Hill staffers make.
“We recommended that HUD direct housing authorities to establish policies to reduce the number of over-income families in public housing, thereby putting as much as an estimated $104.4 million to better use by providing those funds to eligible low-income families in need of housing assistance,” the report said.
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