The Office of Inspector General (OIG) recently released an audit report of HUD examining the extent to which over-income families have been residing in public housing units. “Over-income” means the families were eligible low- income families at the time they were admitted to public housing but their incomes have increased above 80% of area median income during their tenants in public housing. Such occupancy is permitted by HUD regulations and is a discretionary policy that housing authorities may implement. The OIG conducted the review per the request of Congressman David P. Roe.

The OIG stated that as many as 25,226 over-income families have been receiving public housing assistance, according to HUD’s 2014 eligibility income limits. The report concludes with recommendations that HUD direct housing authority policy to better serve and provide opportunity for low-income individuals and families.

While the OIG report provides interesting income-based statistics for the over-income segment of the public housing population, the criticism against HUD is troubling since HUD regulations explicitly give public housing authorities discretion to determine whether to terminate over-income families in public housing. Policies that allow for over-income tenancy may support self-sufficiency goals, and address local housing market conditions. Additionally, families that are identified as over-income help deconcentrate subsidized housing.