Audit of the City’s Section 8 Tenant-Based Assistance Program
From Honolulu Auditor, July 24, 2017 (excerpt)
The city's Section 8 program is meeting its federal requirements, but improvements are warranted. More can be done to achieve program goals by addressing staffing concerns particularly for fraud, accounts receivable collections, and information technology. Section 8 does not have a formal fraud program although, as of FY 2016, the program's delinquent accounts receivables totaled approximately $1.5 million. The program relies on an informal IT support person as a database administrator. The unofficial IT support person's overlapping responsibilities as a housing specialist and providing IT support exposes the program to potential fraud, waste and abuse.
We found the Honolulu caseload per staff is the smallest of the four jurisdictions we reviewed. In our opinion, Honolulu could improve its fraud investigation practices by reviewing best practices from housing agencies that have formal fraud programs and staff designated for fraud detection and investigation. The city could also improve its fraud reporting by utilizing public awareness methods for fraud that the other housing agencies reviewed and used.
The program's landlord outreach efforts needs improvement. Barriers for landlords to participate include the inconsistent reporting of landlord statistics, inadequate landlord briefings, and the lack of policies and procedures for the landlord outreach activities. The program should improve its landlord outreach activities and increase efforts to expand the number of participating landlords. The program should also improve management of active participants; and develop continued eligibility processes for participants to ensure they are still qualified.
Active case management can be improved by maintaining complete documentation and adequate records. The program's handling of informal hearings and fraud recovery cases can be improved to ensure unqualified participants do not remain in the program. We could not measure the program's effectiveness in reducing homelessness because the homeless preference waitlist data was not readily available….
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