The House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance held a hearing on a recent HUD Inspector General (IG) report on HUD’s oversight of the Alexander County Housing Authority (ACHA) in Cairo, IL. HUD took control of ACHA in 2016 after years of mismanagement and deteriorating housing conditions.
In their opening remarks, Subcommittee Chair Sean Duffy (R-WI) and Ranking Member Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) described families’ living conditions for at least six years until HUD finally took over the ACHA as “deplorable” and “fundamentally inexcusable.” Chairman Duffy said the IG report’s most egregious findings revealed “the ACHA clearly misused federal funds and violated the Civil Rights Act via racial segregation and employment discrimination.” The IG report found that HUD could have and should have done more to oversee the administration of ACHA given issues with the housing authority’s governance and operations, including misuse of funds, conflicts of interest, and failure to comply with HUD policies and federal civil rights laws. The report provides recommendations for HUD’s Office of Public and Indian Housing (PIH) to improve PIH’s administration and oversight of troubled public housing authorities.
“Based on the IG’s report and my assessment of it, maybe PHAs should be under more scrutiny, and provisions of funds should be conditional once a PHA has been identified as having negative findings,” said Chairman Duffy.
Representative Mike Bost (R-IL), who represents Cairo, IL, testified alongside Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) about the conditions their constituents experienced. Representative Mike Bost expressed frustration that “the people responsible for this crisis have not been held accountable for their crimes.”
The IG found that HUD’s attempts to bring ACHA into compliance did not resolve the deplorable conditions residents experienced while living in ACHA properties. After taking possession of ACHA in 2016, HUD announced in 2017 that it planned to demolish two ACHA communities in Cairo, requiring about 400 residents to move out. The city does not have sufficient housing stock for the displaced families, however, so many will have to move away from the city.
Jeremy Kirkland, acting deputy inspector general of HUD, testified that failures in oversight existed at every level. He stated that boards and executive directors of ACHA and other troubled public housing authorities should be held accountable “civilly and criminally.” He confirmed that the matter was referred from the HUD OIG to the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois and “has been accepted for criminal and civil prosecution.”
View the recorded hearing at: https://bit.ly/2DdMwOa.
Read the HUD IG report at: https://bit.ly/2PRG3db.
Read the House Financial Services Committee press release at: https://bit.ly/2N3pZTN