We audited the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Real Estate Assessment Center’s inspection process. The audit objectives were to determine whether the Center (1) ensured that public housing properties were inspected within required timeframes before the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic; (2) could improve its Big Inspection Plan for inspecting high-priority non-National Standards for the Physical Inspection of Real Estate (NSPIRE) demonstration public housing properties; and (3) had experienced delays in inspecting the physical condition of public housing properties approved under the NSPIRE demonstration.
Before HUD postponed physical inspections due to COVID-19, the Center did not consistently ensure that public housing properties were inspected within required timeframes. The Center developed its Big Inspection Plan to inspect all NSPIRE demonstration and non-NSPIRE public housing and multifamily properties by March 31, 2023; using for its public housing portfolio, a phased approach to inspect non-NSPIRE properties. We found that under phase I of the Plan, the Center did not inspect all of the high-priority non-NSPIRE public housing properties by December 2021. Under phase II, the inspections for these properties were generally not given priority. Further, the Center experienced delays in inspecting public housing properties approved to participate under the NSPIRE demonstration. HUD can improve its procedures and controls, including the coordination of the procurement for inspection services, to ensure that public housing properties are inspected in a timely manner. Making such improvements will better position HUD’s Office of Public and Indian Housing to know whether the physical conditions in public housing properties are decent, safe, and sanitary. These improvements could also result in Public Housing Assessment System scores better reflecting the current conditions of the properties.
We recommend that the Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Center prioritize the inspection of public housing properties that were (1) not included in the NSPIRE demonstration but were identified as high priority under the Center’s Big Inspection Plan and (2) approved to participate under the NSPIRE demonstration that the Center was unable to inspect by March 31, 2023. We also recommend that the Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Center implement adequate policies, procedures, and controls to ensure that public housing properties will be inspected within required timeframes.