President Obama Signs Buchanan’s Anti-Fraud Legislation
Abuse Hurts Truly Needy Families in Sarasota, Manatee Counties
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan’s legislation to end taxpayer rip-offs in federally subsidized public housing has been signed into law by President Obama, the congressman announced today.
The president signed the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act, which includes a provision authored by Buchanan to tighten income and asset verification requirements for people in public housing. The bill was approved by Congress after an audit revealed that one individual qualified for public housing even though he had assets valued at $1.6 million. The president signed the bill Friday.
“Public housing should be for those who need it the most, not individuals with six-figure incomes and millions of dollars in assets,” Buchanan said. “This abuse of taxpayer dollars must be dealt with in an aggressive way. This bill helps ensure millionaires are not living in public housing on the American taxpayer’s dime.”
Both the Sarasota Housing Authority and Manatee County Housing Authority have previously voiced their support for the measure and applauded Buchanan’s leadership on the issue.
Buchanan introduced the amendment following a shocking report that revealed 25,000 public housing residents earned too much to qualify for taxpayer-funded public housing subsidies.
Specifically, this new law requires the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to establish guidelines for public housing agencies and landlords to use existing databases to verify the income and assets of individuals receiving public housing benefits. Currently, public housing agencies and landlords simply rely on tenants to self-report this information, which is time consuming to collect and verify.
According to an audit last year by the Inspector General of HUD, a Nebraska tenant was approved to live in subsidized housing for 10 years with a monthly rent of just $300, despite having an annual income of $65,007, assets valued at $1.6 million, and savings, checking and retirement accounts each holding hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The audit found that the federal government gave tax-subsidized, low-income housing to thousands of families who didn’t qualify while hundreds of thousands of needy families were left on waiting lists.