A government watchdog investigation requested by U.S. Rep. Phil Roe has found that thousands of families across the United States, including 545 in Tennessee, are living in public housing even though their income exceeds eligibility requirements, reports Michael Collins.
The inspector general’s report showed that 25,226 “over-income” families live in government-subsidized housing, even though more than half of them had income that was $10,000 above the eligibility threshold.
Yet the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has no plans to kick them out because its policies don’t require them to leave.
“This condition occurred because HUD regulations require families to meet eligibility income limits only when they are admitted to the public housing program,” the report said. “The regulations do not limit the length of time that families may reside in public housing.”
The report estimated that HUD will pay as much as $104.4 million over the next year for public housing units occupied by over-income families — money that otherwise could have been used to house eligible low-income families in need of housing assistance.
Roe, a Johnson City Republican, said he was concerned by the findings.
“It seems to me that we should focus limited taxpayer resources on those with the most need,” Roe said. “My staff and I are reviewing the report’s conclusions to determine what changes need to be made.”
…In Tennessee, the report found that 16 “over-income” families live in public housing in the Johnson City Housing Authority even as 211 needy families are on a waiting list for housing. The report did not provide information for Tennessee’s other housing authorities.
In its response, HUD called the report flawed and said it “over emphasizes” the problem. “Over-income” families represent just 2.6 percent of the 1.1 million families who live in public housing, wrote Milan Ozdinec, deputy secretary of HUD’s office of public housing and voucher programs.
What’s more, “there are positive social benefits from having families with varying income levels residing in the same property,” Ozdinec said.