Florida Senators Bill Nelson (D) and Marco Rubio (R) introduced the “Housing Accountability Act of 2016” on July 14. The bill would require residents of private properties that have Section 8 Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) contracts to be surveyed twice a year in order to determine the existence of persistent problems with a property’s physical condition or management.
HUD’s Office of Multifamily Programs oversees private properties with HAP contracts but relies on independent Performance-Based Contract Administrators to inspect properties each year using HUD’s Real Estate Assessment Center (REAC) inspection protocol. The protocol does not provide for resident input, something that resident leaders and advocates, especially the National Alliance of HUD Tenants, have long sought.
If the resident survey consistently identifies problems with a structure or management, and the problems are not resolved or repeatedly occur, HUD may impose a financial penalty not less than 1% of the annual Section 8 budget authority allocated to the owner. Penalty amounts must be used to achieve safe and sanitary conditions or to relocate residents.
The Senators were motivated by several properties owned by Global Ministries in Florida that consistently had severe problems with structural deficiencies, leaky water and gas pipes, water damage, lead poisoning, mold, and roach infestations.
Senator Nelson stated, “Everyone deserves a safe and clean place to call home. This legislation will help ensure that the owners of federally subsidized housing are held accountable for the condition of their properties, and it will give tenants the opportunity to file complaints directly with HUD, without fear of reprisal.”
Earlier this year, Senator Rubio introduced three amendments to a Senate bill passed as H.R. 2577 that would shorten the required response time for contract violations, make Tenant Protection vouchers available to residents needing to move from problem properties, and require HUD and the Government Accountability Office to report on REAC scores nationwide and provide suggestions for improvement.
The bill is referred to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs.
A media release is at: http://bit.ly/29UbjqA
The bill is at: http://bit.ly/29O6UFe