Buchanan’s plan to prevent public housing abuse passes House

The House approved U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan’s (R-FL) measure on Tuesday to prevent “over income” Americans from accessing federally subsidized public housing.

The measure, an amendment to the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act, H.R. 3700, that passed the House 427-0 on Tuesday night and now heads to the Senate for consideration, would tighten income and asset verification requirements.

“Public housing should be for those who need it, not wealthy people with large bank accounts,” Buchanan said. “Our country is $19 trillion in debt yet we’re giving subsidies to rich people?”

An audit of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) by the Inspector General last year found that tax-payer subsidized, low-income housing was being given by the federal government to thousands of families who did not qualify while hundreds of thousands of qualifying families were placed on waiting lists. Among other egregious examples, the report found a Nebraska tenant who was approved to live for 10 years in subsidized housing with a monthly rent of $300 despite an annual income of $65,007 and assets valued at more than $1.6 million, as well as savings, checking and retirement accounts that each held hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Under Buchanan’s amendment, HUD would be required to establish the means for existing databases to be used by public housing agencies (PHAs) and landlords to verify the income and assets of those receiving public housing benefits. Currently, local PHAs and landlords must rely on self-reporting by tenants, which is time consuming to collect and verify and open to fraud.

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