The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – Office of Inspector General audited the Helena, MT Housing Authority in response to a hotline complaint alleging a former employee of the housing authority improperly released housing choice voucher holders’ personally identifiable information. The objective of our review was to determine whether the allegation had merit.
A former Authority employee did improperly release personally identifiable information outside the Authority. The employee sent at least seven emails containing housing choice voucher holders’ personally identifiable information, including Social Security numbers and other personal information such as household income, to the employee’s personal email address and the work email address of a friend who worked for one of the Authority’s contractors.
We recommend that the Director of the Denver Office of Public and Indian Housing require the Montana Department of Commerce and the Authority to consult their legal counsel to determine whether the employee violated the State’s privacy laws. If so, consider taking action against the former employee. In addition, they should determine whether they are required to inform voucher holders of the breach and if so, notify those voucher holders.