Roe introduces bill to evict high-income families in public housing

Legislation sparked by Nate Morabito's community watchdog report

(WJHL) – Congressman Phil Roe has filed legislation aiming to evict high-income families in public housing. The legislation is a direct result of our 2013 community watchdog investigation.

If passed, housing authorities will be required to evict residents earning 125% above the median income.

It revealed that more than 25,000 families were living in public housing. At the same time, more than 500,000 people were on the waiting list.

The following is a press release from Congressman Roe on the new legislation:


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Rep. Phil Roe, M.D. (R-TN) introduced the Fairness in Public Housing Act. This bill would require tenants in public housing who have earned more than 125% of Median Area Income for more than one year to move out so that other needy families can move in.

Roe released the following statement on the bill:

“After hearing of long waitlists for public housing, I spent two years trying to get information from HUD about the tenants who currently reside in these communities. I understand why having higher earners in public housing is good for local housing authorities, but there are so many families who are truly in need of assistance that we must prioritize those most in need.

“Public and subsidized housing is available to help struggling individuals and families, and it’s encouraging to know many people have been able to get back on their feet and increase their wages. Still, I strongly believe that once a family has risen and stayed out of poverty, other needy families should be given the same opportunity. As documented in the Inspector General’s report, this is a serious problem nationwide. My commonsense bill ensures families in public housing have sufficient time to stabilize themselves while also providing opportunity for other families in need, and I am proud to introduce this important bill.”

Background: On July 21, 2015, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released the results of an audit Congressman Roe requested in 2013 on families who exceed current income limits but still reside in government-subsidized housing. On October 23, 2013, Congressman Roe wrote Inspector General David Montoya to request this audit. The Congressman followed up with formal correspondence again in November and several times over almost two years before the results of the audit were released.

The OIG found more than 25,000 families around the United States whose income exceeded the limit stayed in public housing or received housing assistance in 2014. Nearly 18,000 of those families had earned more than the qualifying amount for more than one year. The OIG estimated that HUD would spend as much as $104.4 million in the next year for housing units occupied by families who are over the income limit.

A copy of the bill can be found here.

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