WASHINGTON — Federal auditors found some public housing residents are gaming the system designed to help the poor, sometimes collecting extra money and multiple checks for their rent. They found it’s costing taxpayers millions, while many local housing offices have long lists of people needing help.
Auditors at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) say they’ve noticed it happening when residents switch between housing programs, moving from a Section 8 rental to traditional public housing, for example.
The HUD inspector general looked at a small sample group of 80 residents who switched programs. They found nearly half were still collecting checks on both their old and new homes.
According to the inspector general, it’s happening because HUD is not looking at its own records. The report states public housing agencies aren’t being required to flag applicants who may already be receiving housing subsidies.
“They’re taking advantage of an oversight system that isn’t working properly,” said Demian Brady, of the National Taxpayers Union.
A HUD spokesman said the agency is fixing the problem.
In a statement, HUD said the agency is “taking steps to eliminate the payment of multiple subsidies in our public housing assistance programs, a process which began prior to the start of the inspector general’s audit.”