In August, an audit from the Department of Housing and Urban Development found that over 25,000 families were receiving public housing assistance, even though their incomes had reached the agency’s income threshold for almost a year. HUD is protected to pay $104.4 million over the next year for public housing units that are being occupied by overqualified tenants regarding earnings. In some ways, that’s good news. These folks don’t need a fixed rent anymore. The bad news is that they’re eating up valuable resources for people who actually need the assistance.
Congressman Phil Roe (R-TN) is planning on introducing legislation to rid public housing complexes of people who shouldn’t be there. For starters, Tennessee found that tenants were making between $50,000-80,000 a year in every major city in the state (via WJHL):
This summer a federal audit, sparked by our findings, uncovered 25,000 overincome families living in public housing nationwide making up to a million dollars.
“They don’t need to be in subsidized housing that you and me and the taxpayers are paying for,” he said.
Congressman Roe says the draft legislation is already gathering plenty of interest and he thinks it will pass, likely with bi-partisan support. The draft would require overincome families to move out of public housing if they’ve made 125% over the median area income for at least a year.
“Everywhere we looked at, where they took a snapshot, the very thing you found here they found there,” he said of the federal audit. “So I think there’s no reason to believe it isn’t happening around the country.”
Congressman Roe says it’s already unfair that 500,000 low-income people who need emergency housing are stuck on lengthy public housing waiting lists.
“The housing authority is really in a bind,” he said. “If they put these high income people out and replace them with low income people they get less money to run their shop. I’m sorry, but that’s what it’s set up to do, to help low-income people.”