Audit finds abuse of Texas public housing system

A recent audit found hundreds of Texans are being allowed to abuse the public housing system.

Auditors found a family in southeast Texas earning $285,000 a year and another near Wichita Falls making $227,000 a year. North Texas also has its share of abuse while thousands of low-income people are on waiting lists.

Kiara Tucker is one of the 11,000 people on the Dallas Housing Authority's waiting list for public housing. She just returned to work from an unpaid maternity leave. In addition to her 2-month-old she's the mom of a five and eight-year-old.

they're all living with her mom who is on dialysis in a one bedroom apartment.

“That's very unfair to people who are making $23 or $24,000 a year. Considering that I've been on the waiting list for going on three years, and I have three children," Tucker said.

The audit by the office of the inspector general found 20 families in Texas are earning more than $100,000 a year.

In Dallas, three families are earning more than $50,000 a year. One of them is making $75,000 per  year -- $21,000 more than the eligibility income limits.

“The fact that there are people who don't need the help but are taking advantage of the system and getting over, that's ridiculous, kind of a slap in our face,” Tucker said.

Texas was second only to New York for the number of high income people living in public housing, and it's all happening legally.

In 1974, lawmakers ended income limits after someone is admitted to public housing. Auditors found as a result HUD is not assisting as many low-income families as it could.

Cindy Murrell is 53 and disabled. She's hoping for a spot in public housing, but right now is living with friends and earning only $600 a month in disability.

“Here I am needing some help and can't get it, and people who could obviously make it on their own are getting help," Murrell said.

Auditors estimated HUD could put $104 million dollars to better use if it put better policies in place.

The president of the Dallas Housing Authority, who was not available for an on-camera interview, points out that as income goes up for occupants of public housing so does their rent.

Some families are paying full rent with no subsidy.

But Tucker believes they're still taking up a home that was really meant for a family like hers.

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