OFFICE OF AUDIT REGION 7 KANSAS CITY, KS U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Washington, DC Oversubsidization in the Housing Choice Voucher Program 2013-KC-0005 September 23, 2013 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT OFFICE OF INSPECTOR GENERAL Issue Date: September 23, 2013 Audit Report Number: 2013-KC-0005 TO: Milan Ozdinec, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Housing and Voucher Programs, PE //signed// FROM: Ronald J. Hosking, Regional Inspector General for Audit, 7AGA SUBJECT: HUD Had Made Progress in Reducing Oversubsidization in the Housing Choice Voucher Program, but the Problem Continued To Exist Attached is the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) final results of our review of oversubsidization in the Housing Choice Voucher program. HUD Handbook 2000.06, REV-4, sets specific timeframes for management decisions on recommended corrective actions. For each recommendation without a management decision, please respond and provide status reports in accordance with the HUD Handbook. Please furnish us copies of any correspondence or directives issued because of the audit. The Inspector General Act, Title 5 United States Code, section 8L, requires that OIG post its publicly available reports on the OIG Web site. Accordingly, this report will be posted at http://www.hudoig.gov. If you have any questions or comments about this report, please do not hesitate to call me at 913-551-5870. Office of Audit Region 7 400 State Avenue, Suite 501, Kansas City, KS 66101 Phone (913) 551-5870, Fax (913) 551-5877 Visit the Office of Inspector General Web site at www.hudoig.gov. September 23, 2013 HUD Had Made Progress in Reducing Oversubsidization in the Housing Choice Voucher Program, but the Problem Continued To Exist Highlights Audit Report 2013-KC-0005 What We Audited and Why What We Found We selected the U.S. Department of HUD had made progress in reducing oversubsidization Housing and Urban Development’s in the Housing Choice Voucher program, but the (HUD) Housing Choice Voucher problem continued to exist. Of the 100 households program for audit based on an internal reviewed, 13 were oversubsidized. This condition audit suggestion. An earlier internal occurred because HUD had made few data analytic audit report (2007-FW-0001) indicated tools available to public housing agencies to help problems with oversubsidization in the detect and monitor oversubsidized households, program, and since then, the Office of improper payment standards, and reporting errors. We Inspector General had conducted only a estimated that more than $1.1 million in excess subsidy few external audits to help substantiate payments was not available for other households whether oversubsidization continued to seeking housing choice voucher assistance. be a problem. Our audit objective was to determine whether oversubsidization still exists in the Housing Choice Voucher program. What We Recommend We recommend that the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Housing and Voucher Programs provide guidance to the authorities on the data analytic tools available and the specific procedures to help detect and monitor oversubsidized households, improper payment standards, and reporting errors to put at least $1.1 million to better use annually. TABLE OF CONTENTS Background and Objective 3 Results of Audit Finding: HUD Had Made Progress in Reducing Oversubsidization in the 5 Housing Choice Voucher Program, but the Problem Continued To Exist Scope and Methodology 10 Internal Controls 12 Appendixes A. Schedule of Funds To Be Put to Better Use 13 B. Auditee Comments and OIG’s Evaluation 14 C. Criteria 17 2 BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE The Housing Choice Voucher program is the Federal Government’s major program for assisting very low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled in affording decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market. Housing choice vouchers are administered locally by public housing authorities, which receive Federal funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to administer the program. A family that is issued a voucher is responsible for finding a suitable housing unit of the family’s choice, which the owner agrees to rent under the program. A housing subsidy is paid directly to the landlord by the authority on behalf of the participating family. The family then pays the difference between the actual rent charged by the landlord and the amount subsidized by the program. The Housing Choice Voucher program is HUD’s largest rental assistance program. Funding is provided through annual appropriation acts for HUD, which in turn allocates funds to the authorities. In 2012, Congress appropriated more than $18.9 billion to fund the program. After Congress required HUD to perform a net restricted assets offset of $650 million, there was still more than $18.2 billion available. In 2013, the amount Congress appropriated to fund the program was subject to sequestration. As a result, the total available appropriations were reduced but still totaled more than $17.9 billion. In September 2007, the HUD Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued an audit report (2007- FW-0001) on oversubsidization in the program. This report estimated that authorities overpaid $20 million annually in rental assistance for more than 16,500 families and recommended that HUD issue guidance to clarify requirements for granting reasonable accommodations and entering accurate data into HUD’s Inventory Management System-Public and Indian Housing Information Center. Also, it recommended that HUD incorporate data analysis into its risk assessment and monitoring programs to ensure that authorities assign the correct voucher size to all families and to mitigate data errors. HUD published several notices on live-in aides, other reasonable accommodation issues, and corresponding data entry. However, HUD disagreed with the recommendation concerning data analysis. Payment standards are used to calculate the housing assistance the authority pays to the owner on behalf of the family leasing the unit. Each authority has latitude in establishing its payment standards by bedroom size. The range of possible payment standard amounts is based on HUD’s public fair market rent schedule for the area in which the authority has jurisdiction. An authority is required to adopt a written administrative plan that establishes local policies for program administration. The plan must conform to HUD regulations and state the policies in those areas in which the authority has discretion to establish local policy. The authority must establish standards for determining the number of bedrooms for families of different sizes and composition. For the purposes of this report, a household was considered oversubsidized if the amount of housing assistance the authority paid for the household exceeded the authorized level of assistance and resulted in a subsidy overpayment. We considered a household to have improper 3 payment standards if the authority used the wrong payment standard. All households that were oversubsidized also had an improper payment standard. The objective of our review was to determine whether oversubsidization still exists in the Housing Choice Voucher program. 4 RESULTS OF AUDIT Finding 1: HUD Had Made Progress in Reducing Oversubsidization in the Housing Choice Voucher Program, but the Problem Continued To Exist HUD had made progress in reducing oversubsidization in the Housing Choice Voucher program, but the problem continued to exist. This condition occurred because HUD had made few data analytic tools available to authorities to help detect and monitor oversubsidized households, improper payment standards, and reporting errors. As a result, more than $1.1 million in excess subsidy payments might not be available for other households seeking housing choice voucher assistance. HUD Had Made Progress in Reducing Oversubsidization HUD had made progress in reducing oversubsidization in the program. In internal audit report 2007-FW-0001, HUD OIG estimated that approximately 65,000 of the 2.2 million assisted families appeared to be overhoused because the number of bedrooms on the voucher exceeded the number of people in the household. During that audit, OIG auditors tested a statistical sample of 205 vouchers and found that authorities oversubsidized families who resided in units with more bedrooms than the number in the household in 67 (33 percent) of the sample vouchers. Consequently, authorities overpaid more than $82,000 in subsidies for 53 of the 205 families (26 percent). As a result, HUD OIG estimated that authorities oversubsidized 16,500 vouchers, resulting in overpayments of $20 million annually. In 2006, Congress appropriated more than $15 billion for the program. To conduct this audit, we initially targeted our sample and were able to identify 11,277 instances nationwide in which the household had a calculated bedroom size and actual bedroom size smaller than the number of bedrooms on the housing choice voucher. We selected a statistical sample of 100 households from this universe (see Scope and Methodology for details of our selection) and found that oversubsidization continued to exist in the program. Of the 100 households reviewed, 13 were oversubsidized, resulting in an estimated $1.1 million in excess subsidy payments that were not available for other households seeking housing choice voucher assistance. HUD’s Housing Choice Voucher Guidebook states that the authority’s administrative plan must describe the standards that will be used and when exceptions to the established standards may be granted. The administrative plan 5 establishes guidelines such as at what age children of the opposite sex will share a bedroom and the age at which children of the same sex will share a bedroom. The various categories of oversubsidization errors observed during this review are displayed in the table below. Oversubsidization errors Number Single member household assigned higher payment standard without 4 proper justification Household with family members assigned higher payment standard 3 without proper justification Failure to reduce voucher size after a change in family composition 2 Live-in aide was not identified on the form HUD-50058 2 Reasonable accommodation request was not properly documented 1 Higher payment standard assigned for foster children not residing in 1 household Total 13 Improper Payment Standards Were Found in 25 Households Of the 100 households, 25 had improper payment standards. However, many households with improper payment standards were not oversubsidized. For example, if the gross rent amount was less than the authorized payment standard, no oversubsidization occurred. Reporting Errors Were Found in 89 Files During our review of oversubsidization, we found the Authorities did not accurately complete forms HUD-50058 for 89 of the 100 households. These reporting errors included incorrectly listing the number of bedrooms on the voucher in block 12a on the form, listing the wrong number of bedrooms in the unit, incorrectly listing the household member’s gender, failing to list all family members, and listing the wrong date of admission into the program. According to Office of Public and Indian Housing Notices PIH 2011-65 and 2010-25, HUD relies on authorities to submit accurate, complete, and timely data to administer, monitor, and report on the management of its rental assistance programs. In addition, Notice PIH 2010-51 states that authorities are expected to ensure that data on the form HUD-50058 are correct when entered into the Inventory Management System-Public and Indian Housing Information Center. 6 The various reporting errors observed are displayed in the table below. These are in addition to the reporting errors resulting from the oversubsidization and improper payment standards discussed in the previous section. Reporting errors Number Incorrect number of bedrooms on the voucher listed in block 12a on 82 the form HUD-50058 Incorrect number of bedrooms in the unit listed in block 5d on the 8 form HUD-50058 Family member’s gender incorrectly listed on the form HUD-50058 3 Family members not listed on the form HUD-50058 1 Wrong date of admission into the program 1 Total 95* *Some households had multiple reporting errors Few Data Analytic Tools Were Available to Authorities To satisfy one of the 2007 audit’s recommendations and prevent future oversubsidization, HUD issued Notice PIH 2008-20, which clarified guidance on the categorization of live-in aides, other reasonable accommodation issues, and corresponding data entry into HUD’s Inventory Management System-Public and Indian Housing Information Center. Since Notice PIH 2008-20 was issued, HUD also had published Notices 2009-22, 2010-51, and 2012-33 to extend the original requirements and add and revise additional guidance. However, HUD had made few data analytic tools available to authorities to help detect and monitor oversubsidized households, improper payment standards, and reporting errors. The form HUD-50058 module in the Inventory Management System-Public and Indian Housing Information Center allows HUD to obtain the information about people who participate in subsidized housing programs. The module contains various submodules, and the “reports” submodule allows a user to run various reports to help analyze tenant information. The key management indicators report provides information on the volume of authority activity, identifies possible discrepancies, and includes descriptive data related to authority policies. The discrepancies tab of the key management indicators report displays information about the number of units in which the number of bedrooms exceeds the number of family members. However, this report indicates only numbers and percentages and does not display the specific name of the household that exceeded the bedroom threshold. We interviewed 10 authorities about programs available to detect and monitor oversubsidization. Eight of the authorities used local computer software to manage their Housing Choice Voucher program, but their local software had limited capability to detect and monitor possible oversubsidization. Nine of the 7 authorities recommended that additional capabilities be added to the Inventory Management System-Public and Indian Housing Information Center to help query and monitor specific households for potential oversubsidization. Annual Oversubsidization Overpayments Were Reduced Using statistical sampling procedures to project the number of oversubsidized households, we estimated that more than $1.1 million in excess subsidy payments were not available for other households seeking housing choice voucher assistance. This amount was projected to occur in a 1-year period and indicated a reduction in annual oversubsidization overpayments when compared to the $20 million annually found in the 2007 HUD OIG report. In addition, we estimated that 827 of the 11,277 households (7.3 percent) were oversubsidized and 9,919 housing assistance payments were incorrect. 2,008 of the 11,277 households (17.8 percent) had improper payment standards. 9,435 of the 11,277 households (83.7 percent) had reporting errors on the form HUD-50058. Providing housing authorities with better tools to analyze the data that already exist would help HUD ensure that subsidy amounts are computed correctly. In addition, the savings HUD would achieve by implementing our recommendations would exceed the cost of implementing them. Conclusion HUD had made progress in reducing oversubsidization in the Housing Choice Voucher program, but the problem continued to exist. HUD had issued various notices to help clarify guidance on live-in aides, other reasonable accommodation issues, and corresponding data entry into HUD’s Inventory Management System- Public and Indian Housing Information Center. In the earlier internal audit (2007- FW-0001), HUD OIG estimated that authorities oversubsidized 16,500 vouchers, resulting in overpayments of $20 million annually in a $15 billion program. During this review, we estimated in our targeted sample that 827 of the 11,277 households were oversubsidized, resulting in overpayments of more than $1.1 million annually in an $18.9 billion program. Also, the percentage of oversubsidized households had decreased from 26 to an estimated 7.3 percent. 8 Recommendations We recommend that the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Housing and Voucher Programs 1A. Provide guidance to the authorities on the data analytic tools available and the specific procedures to help detect and monitor oversubsidized households, improper payment standards, and reporting errors to put at least $1,128,000 to better use annually. 9 SCOPE AND METHODOLOGY Our audit period was August 1, 2011, through February 28, 2013. We conducted the audit from our office in Kansas City, KS, from February through July 2013. To accomplish our objective, we Reviewed Federal regulations and HUD requirements; Interviewed HUD and HUD OIG staff; Analyzed data from HUD’s Inventory Management System-Public and Indian Housing Information Center; Selected and reviewed a statistical sample of 100 housing choice vouchers administered by 89 public housing agencies; Reviewed authorities’ policies and procedures, forms HUD-50058, and supporting documentation; and Inteviewed authority staff. Our sampling unit was based on the head-of-household Social Security number, which represents a given household. In this case, a household represents housing assistance payments. Our sample universe consisted of more than 1.9 million unique household voucher records and more than 4.7 million household members based on data obtained from HUD’s Inventory Management System-Public and Indian Housing Information Center. We analyzed the data for the 1.9 million household voucher records and determined that the update dates ranged from August 8, 2011, through February 6, 2013. For the effective date of action, the dates ranged from October 7, 2011 through February 7, 2013. By using data analysis techniques, we targeted our sample and were able to identify 11,277 instances in which the household had a calculated bedroom size and actual bedroom size smaller than the number of the bedrooms on the housing choice voucher. We also considered whether members of the same sex shared a bedroom under the age of 18 and whether members of the opposite sex shared a bedroom under the age of 5. The sample was designed to accommodate the range of dollar amounts that were likely to be in error for each of these households. The universe was divided into six strata, and a proportional number of samples were randomly selected from each stratum as noted in the table below. 10 Sample stratification Strata Lower bound of Universe Sample Sampling overpayment weight Cost_tier1 $0 1,116 10 111.60 Cost_tier2 $110 2,469 22 112.23 Cost_tier3 $134 2,061 18 114.50 Cost_tier4 $156 2,241 20 112.05 Cost_tier5 $188 2,269 20 113.45 Cost_tier6 $266 1,121 10 112.10 Sample designs were tested using both traditional sample design formulas and computer simulations to verify that the samples would perform as expected. Sample designs were tested under a wide range of possible error rates to ensure that they would yield measurable results, conform to the stated confidence error, and adequately protect the auditee. Samples were randomly selected in accordance with the 100-count sample design using the survey select procedure in SAS, a computer program commonly used for statistical computations. From the 11,277 households, we selected a statistical sample of 100 households administered by 89 public housing agencies. Also, we selected 18 spare households to review in case we needed to replace one of the units in our sample. However, we did not have to review any spare households. For each of the 100 households reviewed, we mailed a letter to each authority requesting that it provide a copy of the applicable forms HUD-50058, any medical documentation or waivers authorizing an additional bedroom, and payment standards. Also, we reviewed the authority’s administrative plan concerning bedroom size assignment, at what ages opposite-sex and same- sex children can share a bedroom, and any additional documentation used to justify an extra bedroom. After the samples were reviewed, percentages and numbers of households, as well as housing assistance payments affected, were computed. Statistical calculations were performed by means of computer programs written in SAS. Cases in which no dollar error was found were recorded as zero dollars. A margin of error was calculated for each type of control failure found in the audit. This was done by computing the mean and standard error of problematic payments and household counts within our stratified sample. Our projections were calculated with a one-sided confidence interval of 95 percent. We conducted the audit in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for our findings and conclusions based on our audit objective. We believe that the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings and conclusions based on our audit objective. 11 INTERNAL CONTROLS Internal control is a process adopted by those charged with governance and management, designed to provide reasonable assurance about the achievement of the organization’s mission, goals, and objectives with regard to Effectiveness and efficiency of operations, Reliability of financial reporting, and Compliance with applicable laws and regulations. Internal controls comprise the plans, policies, methods, and procedures used to meet the organization’s mission, goals, and objectives. Internal controls include the processes and procedures for planning, organizing, directing, and controlling program operations as well as the systems for measuring, reporting, and monitoring program performance. Relevant Internal Controls We determined that the following internal controls were relevant to our audit objective: Controls over oversubsidization in the Housing Choice Voucher program. We assessed the relevant controls identified above. A deficiency in internal control exists when the design or operation of a control does not allow management or employees, in the normal course of performing their assigned functions, the reasonable opportunity to prevent, detect, or correct (1) impairments to effectiveness or efficiency of operations, (2) misstatements in financial or performance information, or (3) violations of laws and regulations on a timely basis. We evaluated internal controls related to the audit objective in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. Our evaluation of internal controls was not designed to provide assurance regarding the effectiveness of the internal control structure as a whole. Accordingly, we do not express an opinion on the effectiveness of the Office of Public and Indian Housing’s internal control. 12 APPENDIXES Appendix A SCHEDULE OF FUNDS TO BE PUT TO BETTER USE Recommendation Funds to be put number to better use 1A $1,128,000 Recommendations that funds be put to better use are estimates of amounts that could be used more efficiently if an OIG recommendation is implemented. These amounts include reductions in outlays, deobligation of funds, withdrawal of interest, costs not incurred by implementing recommended improvements, avoidance of unnecessary expenditures noted in preaward reviews, and any other savings that are specifically identified. In this case, if HUD implements our recommendations, it will help ensure that Authorities have the capability to better detect and monitor oversubsidized households. Our estimate reflects only the initial year of this benefit. These amounts do not include offsetting costs incurred by HUD to implement our recommendations. 13 Appendix B AUDITEE COMMENTS AND OIG’S EVALUATION Ref to OIG Evaluation Auditee Comments 14 Ref to OIG Evaluation Auditee Comments Comment 1 Comment 2 15 OIG Evaluation of Auditee Comments Comment 1 We revised Recommendation 1A in order for HUD to inform the authorities about the data analytical tools available to them and the specific procedures to access these products. When we interviewed the authorities, they were not aware of any additional reports besides the key management indicators report. Unless the authorities are made aware of additional reports, they cannot perform the appropriate quality control. Comment 2 We removed Recommendation 1B from the final report. 16 Appendix C CRITERIA HUD Housing Choice Voucher Program Guidebook, Chapter 3, Paragraph 3.2 The Authority’s administrative plan must address subsidy standards. Specifically, the Authority must establish subsidy standards for determining the number of bedrooms needed for families of different sizes and compositions. The administrative plan must describe the standards that will be used and when exceptions to the Authority’s established subsidy standards may be granted. HUD Housing Choice Voucher Program Guidebook, Chapter 7, Paragraph 7.4 Payment Standard Amount for a Family The payment standard amount for a family is the lower of the payment standard amount for the family unit size, or payment standard amount for the size of the unit leased by the family. When the Payment Standard Increases The payment standard in place on the effective date of the housing assistance payment contract remains in place for the duration of the contract term unless the Authority increases or decreases its payment standard. If a payment standard is increased, the higher payment standard is first used in calculating the housing assistance payment at the time of the family’s regular (annual) reexamination. Families requiring or requesting interim reexaminations will not have their housing assistance payments calculated using the higher payment standard until their next annual reexamination. When the Payment Standard Decreases If the Authority lowers its payment standards, the payment standard remains in effect on the effective date of the housing assistance payments contract will remain in effect until the family moves to another unit, has a change in its family size or composition, or until the second annual reexamination after the Authority decreases its payment standard. Decreases in the applicable payment standard due to changes in family size or composition are effective as of the next regular (annual) reexamination following the change. At that time, the new family size will be used to determine the payment standard. Notices PIH 2012-33 and 2010-51, “Oversubsidization in the Housing Choice Voucher Program” Live-in Aides Although a health-care provider must document the need for a live-in aide (which would result in the issuance of an additional bedroom size voucher), the live-in aide must be identified by the family and approved by the PHA [public housing authority] 17 first…Occasional, intermittent, multiple or rotating care givers typically do not reside in the unit and would not qualify as live-in aides. Therefore, an additional bedroom should not be approved for a live-in aide under these circumstances. Other Reasonable Accommodation Issues A family may always request a reasonable accommodation to permit program participation by individuals with disabilities… The Authority must consider requests for an exception to the established subsidy standards on a case-by-case basis and provide an exception, where necessary, as a reasonable accommodation. The Authority shall document the justification for all granted exceptions. Other Causes The secondary cause of oversubsidization was the failure of the Authority to change the voucher unit size after changes in family composition. Although families are not required to move from an assisted unit when the number of bedrooms in the unit exceeds the number of bedrooms for which the family is eligible, the payment standard must conform to the Authority’s subsidy standards at the family’s next annual recertification after the change in family composition. PIC Data Entry Authorities are expected to ensure that data on the Family Report (form HUD-50058) is correct when entered in the Inventory Management System-Public and Indian Housing Information Center [PIC]. Whenever there is a change in the subsidy standard and corresponding payment standard for which the family is eligible, lines 12a and 12j of the Family Report must be adjusted accordingly. Notices PIH 2011-65 and 2010-25, “Timely Reporting Requirements of the Family Report into the Public and Indian Housing Information Center” HUD relies on Authorities to submit accurate, complete, and timely data to administer, monitor, and report on the management of its rental assistance programs. 18
HUD Had Made Progress in Reducing Oversubsidization in the Housing Choice Voucher Program, but the Problem Continued To Exist
Published by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General on 2013-09-23.
Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)