The Office of the Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has recently released a federal audit of HUD’s public housing program which found, out of 1.1 million families currently living in public housing, 25,226 of those families’ income exceeded HUD’s 2014 eligibility income limits.
According to the audit, New York state had the highest number of over-income families living in public housing units, at 10,903 families; Puerto Rico followed, with 1,219 families; then Texas, with 1,056.
The audit was prompted by a request from U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-TN, after a Tennessee news station found people with six figure incomes had been living in public housing.
The majority of high-income families living in New York’s public housing system, 10,250, reside in New York City, the audit said. In one egregious case, a four-person household’s annual income was $497,911, while the low-income threshold was $67,100.
In addition, according to the audit, there are currently 302,079 families on New York City Housing Authority’s waiting list.
“HUD will pay as much as $104.4 million over the next year for public housing units occupied by over-income families that otherwise could have been used to house eligible low-income families in need of housing assistance,” the audit said.
According to auditors, as long as families complied with the terms of their rental agreements, they continued to receive public housing assistance, regardless of income.
“HUD believes that the report over-emphasizes the problem because over-income households represent 2.6 percent of all public housing households,” the audit stated.
However, the audit continued, “The problem is not over-emphasized to as many as 25,226 families in need of housing that continue to wait for assistance because over-income families choose to remain in public housing, rather than find housing in the unasssited market.”
The office recommended HUD “establish policies to reduce the number of over-income families in public housing, thereby putting as much as an estimated $104,417,212 to better use by providing those funds to eligible low-income families in need of housing assistance.”
There are approximately 3,300 public housing authorities nationwide.
Visit https://www.hudoig.gov/sites/default/files/documents/2015-PH-0002.pdf to view the full report.