HUD No. 05-167
December 13, 2005
HUD, HHS ANNOUNCES AGREEMENT AIMED AT PROTECTING HUD RENTAL HOUSING RESOURCES
WASHINGTON - U.S. Housing and Urban Development Assistant Secretary Orlando Cabrera and Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary Wade Horn commemorated the signing of an interagency agreement today that will protect billions of dollars in rental assistance housing funds.
Under the agreement, HHS has given HUD access to its National Directory of New Hires database. This allows HUD to conduct quarterly data matching of HHS employment information with HUD public housing and Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program [Section 8] participants nationally. The data matching is projected to minimize the $1.2 billion in improper payments because of tenant under reporting of income.
"The partnership between HUD and HHS plays a vital role in ensuring that HUD serves as many eligible families as possible," said Cabrera, who heads up HUD's Office of Public and Indian Housing. "Marrying the data will save billions of dollars that can be used to help low-income families who are truly in need of help."
"Not only does this agreement aim to reduce fraud, but it will build greater capacity to serve vulnerable families," said Horn who heads up HHS' Administration of Children and Families . "Today's announcement will enable HUD to work the cases more effectively, discovering with greater precision which families are most in need of help."
Access to the NDNH database provides public housing agencies (PHAs) that administer HUD programs in local communities the information they need to validate tenant-reported income of individuals participating in HUD's public housing and HCV programs.
Prior to this agreement, PHAs relied on income information reported by participants. HUD determined that PHAs often overpay rental subsidies to tenants because some tenants under report their household income. In 2002, HUD estimated $2 billionin net annual overpayments because of administration errors and tenants not reporting all of their income.
In 2004, HUD implemented the Enterprise Income Verification System (EIV), which used state data to provide PHAs wage and unemployment information on participants. This agreement will add NDNH data to HUD's EIV system - making a one-stop shop for income verification. PHAs are now able to more easily identify those tenants who under report their income and take appropriate action to ensure these tenants pay the correct amount of rent.
"EIV has been an extremely useful tool for the Dallas Housing Authority," said Ann Lott, the executive director of the Dallas Housing Authority in a statement. "We conduct monthly examination of income for approximately 2,500 families living in public housing and participating in the Housing Choice Voucher program. The EIV system significantly streamlines the verification process and ensures the integrity of HUD's housing programs."
Through initiatives like EIV and this partnership with HHS, HUD has been recognized for its success in reducing improper payments. HUD's actions in this area also support The Improper Payments Information Act that President Bush signed into law in 2002. The law requires all federal agencies to estimate improper payments and implement strategies to reduce erroneous payments in its activities and programs . In 2004, President Bush signed into law section 217 of Division G of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2004 which authorized HUD to have access to the National Directory of New Hires.
HUD is the nation's housing agency committed to increasing homeownership, particularly among minorities; creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans; and supporting the homeless, elderly, people with disabilities and people living with AIDS. The Department also promotes economic and community development as well as enforces the nation's fair housing laws. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet and espanol.hud.gov.