Public and Assisted Housing:

Linking Housing and Supportive Services to Promote Self-Sufficiency

RCED-92-142BR: Published: Apr 1, 1992. Publicly Released: Apr 1, 1992.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO reported on the implications of linking federal housing assistance to supportive services to promote economic self-sufficiency for lower-income families.

GAO found that: (1) the National Affordable Housing Act does not explicitly define the terms self-sufficiency and economic independence but implies that these conditions have been attained when a family under the Family Self-Sufficiency Program no longer receives federal, state, or local assistance for housing; (2) proposed Housing and Urban Development (HUD) guidelines do not specifically require the public housing agency (PHA) to report how many participants have relinquished housing assistance or to indicate what alternatives to assistance housing program participants have found; (3) PHA and legal service organizations differ in their opinions over the proposed HUD exclusion of applicants' motivation as a criterion for selection, although some see the prohibition as fair, numerous PHA believe that the HUD guideline may make the program more difficult to administer; (4) PHA must rely on local service providers to obtain such supportive services that program participants need as job training and child care, and PHA do not receive any additional funds from HUD to pay for those services; (5) local job and housing markets may prevent some participants from achieving self-sufficiency, since jobs available to participants do not pay enough to allow a family to live independently in their area, or participants may not be able to afford unsubsidized housing in some highly populated metropolitan areas; (6) many PHA believe that HUD reimbursement for the costs of administering the program will not be adequate to allow PHA to operate an effective program; and (7) although the proposed HUD guidelines do not require PHA to report the costs of administering the program, if HUD reimbursement does not cover those expenses, PHA may absorb the additional costs or run less effective programs.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In its final rules, HUD required that public housing agencies report on the "effectiveness of the (FSS) program in assisting families to achieve... self-sufficiency." The rules define self-sufficiency, in part, as no longer receiving HUD rental housing assistance.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, in the final program guidelines, should require PHA, as part of their annual reporting on program results, to indicate how many participants have relinquished housing assistance and what alternatives to assisted housing they have found, such as home ownership.

    Agency Affected: Department of Housing and Urban Development

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: HUD agreed to include the recommended reporting items in its final program regulation. In issuing its final regulations on May 27, 1993, HUD changed its policy to allow motivation to be used as a selection factor (24 CFR 905.3013(c), 962.203(c), and 58 FR 30864). This action makes the recommendation moot.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, in the final program guidelines, should require PHA, in their annual reports, to provide information that would allow HUD to ascertain the effect of its prohibition against the use of motivation in selecting participants. The information should: (1) indicate the extent to which families have complied with the terms of their contracts and the reasons for compliance or noncompliance; and (2) include data indicating how the selection process affected PHA ability to obtain supportive services.

    Agency Affected: Department of Housing and Urban Development

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: In 1995, HUD and key authorizing Senate and House subcommittees drafted legislation that would substantially reform HUD rental assistance programs, including the repeal of the Family Self-Sufficiency program. Given this intent, further followup on this recommendation is not warranted.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, in the final program guidelines, should require PHA to report the costs of administering the program and to provide detailed estimates of the costs required to operate a more effective program. Those costs could be used as a basis for the HUD revision of the reimbursement for program administrative costs for both the public housing and section 8 programs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Housing and Urban Development

 

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