Sen. Chuck Grassley asked the Government Accountability Office (GAO) Friday to mount a full-scale investigation to determine how many “fugitive felons [are] living in federally-assisted housing nationwide.”
The Iowa Republican and chairman of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary sent the request following Daily Caller News Foundation reporting that revealed an estimated 1,300 fugitives were illegally living in Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)-funded homes.
Those tenants were wanted for crimes such as rape and murder, according to an unpublished HUD Inspector General report obtained by TheDCNF. Federal law bars such fugitives from living in subsidized housing.
“I am deeply concerned that HUD is not enforcing the provisions of [the law] and is putting federally assisted housing residents at risk,” Grassley wrote in a letter to Comptroller General Gene Dodaro, who heads GAO. The GAO is the investigative arm of Congress.
He requested that GAO “[d]etermine and describe the extent of the problem of fugitive felons living in federally-assisted housing nationwide” and what HUD and its IG have done to catch such wanted tenants and deny them benefits.
The IG ran a data match following a previous request from Grassley, finding that about 57 percent of the warrants for the original 1,300 “were a result of probation-parole violations, contempt of court and failure to appear in court issues”and that currently “950 individuals were classified as felony warrants.” Another 560 carry misdemeanor warrants, while 49 more are uncategorized.
It appears that was the first time either HUD or the IG had looked into the issue since 2012 after discovering there was a potential error with the 1,300 figure.
Grassley noted in his letter a 2002 GAO report that found “while public housing agencies and landlords have the authority to evict fugitive felons, they are not required to do so. Furthermore, even though HUD maintains its own national database of tenants, it has made no attempt to match it with information from centralized arrest warrant databases.”
“Such matching … would be an effective way to identify potentially large numbers of fugitive felons in federal housing assistance programs,” the GAO report Grassley cited continued.
The IG also once participated in a Fugitive Felon Initiative that hunted for fugitives wanted for violent crimes, GAO said in a 2012 report. The U.S. Marshals Service stopped requesting the IG’s participation in the program, but still supports law enforcement partners.
“However, the U.S. Marshals Service has informed me that neither HUD nor HUD IG participate in their seven regional fugitive task forces set up to locate and apprehend wanted fugitive felons,” Grassley wrote.
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