Approximately 2,000 to 3,000 households that included lifetime registered sexual offenders were being subsidized by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), according to a recent audit report.
This occurred even though the Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act of 1998 established the ineligibility of dangerous sex offenders for admission to federally subsidized housing.
“HUD did not have adequate controls, monitoring, and authority to ensure that projects and housing authorities prevented admission and continued subsidy of lifetime registered sex offenders,” says the report by HUD’s Office of Inspector General (OIG). The OIG urges the department to require projects and public housing authorities (PHAs) to revise their admission and screening policies.
It also recommends that HUD seek legislative and program rule changes to require denial of continued occupancy and termination of tenancy for all lifetime registered sex offenders living in subsidized housing.
The report notes that current laws do not include a provision prohibiting continued subsidy of lifetime registered sex offenders, including those improperly admitted.
To conduct the audit, the OIG identified 4,784 households in which one or more members’ Social Security numbers matched an offender in the National Sex Offender Registry. It selected a sample of 67 of those households for review. Of those 67 households, 36 included a lifetime registered sex offender. They included 18 who were ineligible at the time of admission due to lifetime registration status, 10 who were admitted and convicted before the law was enacted, and eight who were eligible at the time of admission but later before lifetime registered sex offenders.
Based on the sample results, it was estimated that HUD subsidized between 2,094 and 3,046 households with a lifetime registered sex offender from the 4,784 households initially identified.
If HUD can persuade Congress to pass appropriate legislation, it could prevent more than $12 million in housing assistance and subsidies from being spent over the next year on the offenders, says the report.
In a written response to the report, HUD officials stressed that the department has been working and will continue to work to ensure that the PHAs are in compliance. They noted an overall low error rate when it came to admissions and objected to the $12 million figure. “It is important to note that this number reflects all households that contain a lifetime sex offender, including those families admitted in accordance with the law,” said HUD officials. “The number needs to be changed to reflect only the dollars applicable to improper admissions and only those related to PIH [Office of Public and Indian Housing] programs.”
They also commented that they do not believe additional legislation is necessary. They feel there is sufficient authority under Sec. 8 and public housing programs to remove the offenders from living in a unit or receiving assistance.