On Tuesday, Republican U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne introduced a bill in the U.S. House to crack down on families living in public housing while earning more than the federally-mandated maximum income to do so.
“There is far too much fraud and abuse within our nation’s welfare programs,” said Byrne. “That’s why I have introduced the Public Housing Accountability Act, which will help prevent over-income families from residing in taxpayer funded public housing.
“Public housing is a critical resource for many of our nation’s poorest families, and we are doing them a disservice by allowing such blatant abuse of the system. It is time Congress gets serious about reforming our nation’s welfare programs to ensure they are both efficient and effective, and my bill is a step in the right direction,” said Byrne.
Byrne’s bill – the Public Housing Accountability Act (H.R. 4133), now circulating in the House – would seek to increase accountability in the public housing sector by requiring an annual verification of each dweller’s income.
Families would also incur a means test if their income changes by “an amount that is estimated to result in an increase of 10 percent or more in annual adjusted income.”
The move comes after a report by a regional Inspector General of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which found a rash of people earning more than the federal maximum living in publicly-subsidized dwellings.
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.
One person living in Secton 8 housing in Mobile was discovered to have an income of more than $100,000, yet still receiving.
Byrne reacted to that report when it came out earlier this year.
“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.”
Byrne represents Alabama’s 1st Congressional District. He was first elected in 2012.
Byrne, an attorney and graduated of University of Alabama’s law school, previously served in the Alabama Senate in Montgomery from 2002 until 2007. Before that, he served on the Alabama State Board of Education as a Democrat.