Part of HUD’s mission is to provide quality, affordable homes for all. The housing HUD insures and funds must be decent, safe, sanitary, and in good repair. In addition to inspections a housing agency or local government may conduct, HUD’s Real Estate Assessment Center (REAC) assesses the physical condition of many of HUD’s insured and subsidized properties through contracted inspections. When inspections identify conditions that could cause a risk to the health and safety of residents, HUD requires property owners and public housing authorities to fix deficiencies that caused the risks. However, sometimes, HUD either is not aware of the risks to resident health or safety or fails to take timely action to mitigate risks. An example is the Alexander County Illinois Housing Authority where about 200 children and their families lived in units with peeling paint; graffiti; pest infestations; and other health and safety hazards, such as inoperable appliances and obstructed accessibility routes.
For fiscal year 2019, we identified ensuring the availability of affordable housing that is decent, safe, sanitary, and in good repair as a top management challenge for HUD. Currently, a team of auditors and investigators is proactively identifying systemic deficiencies in the administration of public housing programs including reviewing for health and safety issues such as lead, mold and other hazardous conditions. Additionally, we have evaluations underway to review (1) HUD’s compliance with laws and regulations regarding taking public housing authorities into receivership, and (2) its actions to identify and mitigate health risks to residents in HUD-assisted housing located on or near sites contaminated with hazardous materials.