Regulation of Boarding Homes Where Supplemental Security Income Recipients Reside

Published: Apr 25, 1979. Publicly Released: Apr 25, 1979.

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GAO reviewed efforts of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) to insure that Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI) recipients were residing in safe and sanitary boarding homes and other facilities. There are over 4 million needy aged, blind, and disabled persons receiving these benefits. Among them are many mentally disabled and aged persons who required noninstitutional housing. In 1976, Congress passed the Keys Amendment requiring states to establish and enforce safety, sanitation, and civil rights standards for group living facilities where significant numbers of SSI recipients are likely to reside. States must include these standards in their annual publications of their title XX plans, beginning with fiscal year 1979. There is ample opportunity for the exploitation of recipients since HEW has offered the states little support and has imposed no penalties for Keys Amendment violations. GAO examined boarding homes in Baltimore, Maryland and Camden County, New Jersey and found that state-licensed facilities were generally acceptable in their conditions and operations, but that unlicensed or locally licensed accommodations were largely substandard and required oversight. New Jersey and Maryland requested and received permission under the Freedom of Information Act to use the Social Security Administration's State Data Exchange records in order to identify unknown and unlicensed boarding homes. With this information, acceptable standards can be better enforced.

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