Grassley Demands Answers On Fugitives Living In Public Housing

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Ethan Barton Editor in Chief
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Sen. Chuck Grassley wants to know why fugitives are living in federally-funded housing, which the Iowa Republican points out is a violation of the law.

“It is essential that the federal government ensures the safety and security of public housing residents against fugitive felons and other such predators,” Grassley wrote to Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julian Castro Friday.

More than 1,300 felony fugitives were found living in public housing in one HUD region in 2012, but local authorities refused to kick them out, The Daily Caller News Foundation exclusively reported July 26, 2016. Those residents were wanted for crimes ranging from felony theft to rape and murder. Grassley cited TheDCNF story in his letter to Castro.

The HUD Inspector General (IG) report that unveiled the fugitives was unreleased because of “questions about the validity of the data,” IG spokesman Darryl Madden told TheDCNF, though he declined to provide specific details.

Local public housing authorities (PHA) told IG investigators 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 report said.

Grassley noted: “However, that is not necessarily true.” The senator and the IG both pointed to a federal law bars fugitives from living in tax-funded housing.

Grassley said “Congress included a provision in the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-193), which requires the immediate termination of any fugitive felons, as well as probation and parole violators in federally subsidized housing.”

Local housing authorities were relying on a less-stringent federal regulation, rather than law to support their claim that they may allow fugitives to continue residing in publicly-funded homes, according to Grassley.

“It is disconcerting that the regulation appears to ignore the mandate in the statute and that the IG’s office failed to release a copy of report to either the department or the general public,” Grassley wrote.

Grassley asked Castro to provide the total number of fugitive felons living in public housing throughout the country, the justification for the lenient language in the federal regulation, how HUD will enforce the law, and what steps the department has taken to ensure tenants safety while felons occupy public housing.

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