US authorities allow rich families to reside in public housing: watchdog report

Source:Xinhua Published: 2015-8-19 11:02:16

More than 25,000 over-income US families are currently taking advantage of the public housing assistance supposedly offered to low-income families and will cost US taxpayers over 100 million US dollars over the next year, said a government watchdog report.

According to the report released recently by the Inspector General's Office for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), as many as 25,226 families whose income exceeded HUD's 2014 eligibility income limits are now enjoying the public housing subsidies while many low-income families are deprived of such assistance.

A sample of 15 public housing authorities with over-income families showed that all 15 provided public housing assistance to 12,425 over-income families, although they also had 579,890 families on their waiting lists.

The report quoted a case in New York City in which a four- person household earned an annual income of 497,911 dollars as of November 2013 but paid only 1,574 dollars a month to live in a public housing subsidized by taxpayers.

The report pointed out that the low-income threshold in New York City is 67,100 dollars for a household to receive public housing assistance.

According to public housing regulations, families need to meet eligibility income limits only when they are admitted to the public housing program. As long as they are in the program, they can stay in public housing even when their income exceed the low income limit.

So far, the HUD has no plan to evict those unqualified over- income families, the report found. Rather, it wants those families to stay in the program, calling them "model tenants" which serve as role models for other families regarding employment and self- sufficiency activities.

"There are positive social benefits from having families with varying income levels residing in the same property," said the HUD in a rebuttal to the watchdog report.

Currently, about 1.1 million US families are living in the public housing and the report estimated that the over-income tenants represent 2.6 percent of all beneficiaries.

While the HUD officials dismissed the report as over- emphasizing the problem, the watchdog report warned that the phenomenon could become even more widespread.

"We did not find that HUD and public housing authorities had taken or planned to take sufficient steps to reduce at least the egregious examples of over-income families in public housing," said the report. "Therefore it is reasonable to expect the number of over-income families participating in the program to increase over time."

Posted in: Homes & Gardens

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