Grassley Seeks GAO Review of HUD Compliance with Law Barring Wanted Fugitive Felons from Public Housing

WASHINGTON – (RealEstateRama) — Sen. Chuck Grassley today asked the Government Accountability Office to review whether the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is taking effective steps to comply with the federal law making fugitive felon status grounds for termination from living in public housing.

“It is essential that the Federal Government ensures the safety and security of residents living in federally assisted housing against fugitive felons and other such predators,” Grassley wrote to Comptroller General Gene Dodaro.  “I am deeply concerned that HUD is not enforcing the provisions of (federal law) and is putting federally assisted housing residents at risk.

Grassley wrote that the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996 makes fugitive felon status grounds for the termination of tenancy in federal housing assistance programs. In addition, the law directs these programs to provide law enforcement officers with information about program recipients for whom there are outstanding warrants to assist in their apprehension.

Media reports and Grassley’s inquiries indicate that neither HUD nor the HUD Office of Inspector General properly tracks the number of wanted fugitive felons living in public housing or takes effective steps to help law enforcement locate and apprehend these individuals.  As of 2012, the IG was participating in a “Fugitive Felon Initiative.” The IG now says it supports law enforcement efforts on fugitive felons but the U.S. Marshals Service told Grassley that neither HUD nor HUD OIG participates in its seven regional fugitive task forces set up to locate and apprehend wanted fugitive felons.

“The taxpayers spend billions of dollars a year to provide safe, affordable housing for those in need,” Grassley said.  “Part of safe housing means not living among wanted fugitive felons.  HUD is failing public housing residents and the taxpayers in not abiding by the letter and spirit of the law.”

Grassley has a long record of seeking accountability from HUD and public housing authorities in fulfilling their responsibilities.

Grassley’s letter to the Government Accountability Office is available here.

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