Families making $100,000 living in taxpayer-assisted public housing in KY

Families making $100,000 living in taxpayer-assisted public housing in KY
Published: Nov. 20, 2015 at 10:28 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 11, 2016 at 10:28 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - You are paying to help families earning as much as $100,000 live in Kentucky's public housing.

Records obtained by WAVE 3 News reveal hundreds of families across the state getting taxpayer-funded housing assistance even though their income exceeds the allowable limits.

Taxpayers have invested tens of millions of dollars to tear down barracks-style public housing projects built in the 1950s and replace them with new, mixed-income apartments and town homes across Louisville. And it's taxpayers who are footing the bill to help families live in those units, even though some of them are making more money than is allowed under federal guidelines.

Records from 2014 indicate there were 56 of those "over-income" families living in Louisville public housing.

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Twenty-three families were making more than $50,000. 11 of whom were earning more than $60,000. Three families made more than $70,000. One family made close to $80,000. That's more than $29,000 more than is allowed under the rules.

The median household income in Louisville is just $44,000.

"Let me emphasize -- they came in below the threshold," said Tim Barry, executive director of the Louisville Metro Housing Authority.

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In order to get into public housing, one's income must be less than what the government allows, since it's paying part of the rent. As a tenant's income increases, so does his portion of the rent. Again, the government foots the rest.

But what happens if a renter's income eventually surpasses that allowable threshold to be in public housing in the first place? The government still pays a portion. And again, that's taxpayer dollars.

Because right now, there is no process for removing a family from public housing based on income.

That's despite the fact there are more than 3,500 families in Louisville on the waiting list for public housing.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development has asked all housing authorities to put a process in place for getting people off assistance once they surpass the maximum.

"And that's exactly what we're doing," Barry said. "We're looking at that."

The move comes after a report from the Office of the Inspector General found as many as 25,226 families nationwide are making more than the income limits but still living in public housing. That's an estimated $104.4 million wasted on assistance for families who don't need it.

Kentucky ranked 11th worst in the nation. Records from 2014 showed three families in other parts of the state making more than $100,000 a year and still getting housing assistance.

Barry said LMHA is currently figuring how out how and when to ask families making too much money to make it on their own.

"But some of them are so close, that one little mishap could send them back again," Barry said. "And that's what we have to be careful of."

LMHA is now considering a new termination policy which will be rolled out as early as April 2016, if approved.

Barry said since that OIG report came out, those making more than the income limit in Louisville's public housing has dropped from 56 families to 39. That's just one percent of the overall number of families living in public housing in Louisville.

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