“Over-income” Alabamians abusing public housing, audit finds

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A recent internal audit by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development founds that tens out thousands of Americans are “over-income” by public housing standards, yet continue to live in subsidized dwellings anyway.

The report found 25,226 families who earned more than the $30,200 maximum for eligibility in Section 8 housing, named after a federal law governing publicly subsidized neighborhoods.

A recent inquiry by an Alabama reporter found dozens of cases in Mobile County alone, including one man who makes some $110,000 a year, but continues to enjoy $550-a-month rent courtesy of taxpayers.

“Why would you even want to live like this?” a public housing resident recently said to Mobile’s WPMI. “If I was making that much money, I wouldn’t even want to stay here.”

The HUD audit found multiple people with assets of more than a million dollars living under federal housing authorities, including one New York family who reported earning $497,911 one year.

Alabama U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne said he was dismayed by the news, but not surprised by reports of fraud and abuse by some beneficiaries.

“I wish I could say I was shocked, but I’m not,” said Byrne, a Fairhope Republican who has represented Alabama’s 1st Congressional District since 2013.

“This is just another reason why we need to look at a total rethink and reform of all those programs because we are wasting taxpayer dollars, and we don’t have ’em to waste,” said Byrne. “We want to get people in it if they really need it, and then find the means to get out as quickly as we can so they can get a job and support themselves.”

The audit contained a recommendation that the department “direct housing authorities to establish policies to reduce the number of overincome families in public housing,” a step that could save American taxpayers an estimated $104.4 million the report said would be better used assisting eligible low-income families in need of housing assistance.

HUD responded to a media inquiry on the audit, saying “there are positive social benefits to having families with varying income levels residing in the same property.”

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