This Family Making $500k Lives In Public Housing

By Josh Fatzick

A family living in New York City government housing has an annual income of nearly $500,000, well over the low-income threshold of $67,000. The housing authority, however, refuses to kick them out.

The family is being allowed to stay because, according to a recent U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development report, the New York City Housing Authority concluded that other low-income residents will see the family’s success as a form of motivation to achieve greater things.

“The Authority believes that allowing overincome families to reside in public housing is beneficial because it shows that participation in the public housing program can help families achieve a more stable life and the average rent paid by overincome families is greater than that paid by other low income families,” the report reads.

Three members of the family earned income well into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to the report. The head of the household owned real estate that produced more than $790,000 in rental income between 2009 and 2013.

As of July 2014, the family paid just $1,573 for its 3-bedroom apartment because the authority isn’t required to terminate leases of families because they make more than the income requirement.

This is just one examples of the more than 25,000 families whose income exceeded HUD’s 2014 income limits, but were still housed in government subsidized units.

Another family in Los Angeles has been living in public housing since 1974, and has been over income since at least May 2011, according to the report. As of June 2014, the family of five was bringing in an annual income of more than $200,000. The low-income threshold is just $70,450.

A single retired person in Oxford, Nebraska, has been a tenant in the city’s public housing since 2005. As of April 2014, that person had personal assets valued at nearly $1.6 million, which is almost 50 times the low-income threshold of $33,500.

That person was paying a flat rent of $300 a month in April 2014. The authority didn’t evict the person, according to the report, because the person was income eligible at admission and hadn’t violated the lease agreement.

HUD is supposed to remove families who exceed its income limits from government subsidized housing and help the families find other housing options.

Instead, the agency was keeping ineligible families in low-cost housing and potentially leaving thousands of families who need help to fend for themselves.

“We estimate that HUD will pay as much as $104.4 million over the next year for public housing units occupied by overincome families that otherwise could have been used to house eligible low-income families in need of housing assistance,” the report said.

The authors of the report concluded that HUD needs enact policies to reduce the number of over income families in public housing and use the money saved to better use by helping those that actually need it.

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