Sneak Preview: Weaknesses Found in HUD Self-Sufficiency Program
(The following was excerpted from a recent article in the Single Audit Information Service.) The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) soon expects to implement a monitoring tool to enable its field offices to better assess recipient compliance with Family Self-Sufficiency Program requirements and ensure that program participants maintain documentation related to their agreements, in response to recommendations in a recent HUD Office of Inspector General (OIG) audit.
Established in 1990, the Family Self-Sufficiency program promotes the development of local strategies to enable families eligible to receive federal assistance to achieve economic independence and self-sufficiency. HUD provides Family Self-Sufficiency awards to public housing agencies, tribes or tribally designated housing entities. From federal fiscal year (FY) 2014 to FY 2016, HUD awarded about $225 million, issuing awards to nearly 700 recipients annually.
Program awardees must, within 90 days of receiving a Family Self-Sufficiency award, submit to HUD for approval an action plan that complies with program regulations at 24 C.F.R. Part 984.201 before implementing the program. The recipient then will execute contracts with eligible families that spell out the terms and conditions for participating in the program and the responsibilities of both the grantee and the family. The contract incorporates individual training and services that contain short- and long-term goals and steps that a family must take to achieve those goals.
When the family’s income increases, the grantee will recalculate the new amount that the family is required to pay toward its housing costs and will put into an escrow account the amount of subsidy it saved due to this increased family payment. A family is eligible to receive the escrow funds deposited into the account on its behalf when it meets the established goals of its contract.
However, OIG found that HUD did not ensure that all program action plans complied with the agency’s applicable regulations, which require recipient action plans to include a minimum of 12 elements. These are: (1) family demographics, (2) estimated number of families that could participate in the program, (3) eligible families from self-sufficiency programs, (4) family selection procedures, (5) outreach efforts, (6) incentives to encourage participation, (7) program activities and supportive services, (8) a method for identifying family support needs, (9) assurances of noninterference with the rights of nonparticipating families, (10) program termination procedures, (11) a timetable for program implementation and (12) a certification of coordination.
(The full version of this story has now been made available to all for a limited time here.)
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