We audited the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Title VIII complaint intake data and jurisdictional determinations recorded in the HUD Enforcement Management System (HEMS). We initiated this audit to assist HUD with identifying opportunities to improve its data collection and jurisdiction determination process. Our audit objective was to assess HUD’s Title VIII fair housing complaint intake process for complaint inquiries that resulted in filed fair housing complaints and inquiries that were closed during the intake stage. Specifically, we reviewed HEMS to assess the thoroughness and consistency of complaint inquiry data and jurisdictional determinations made during the intake process.
A fair housing complaint inquiry is opened by HUD or a Fair Housing Assistance Program (FHAP) agency when a claimant provides information regarding an alleged discriminatory housing practice. If HUD or the FHAP agency determines the complaint is within HUD’s jurisdiction to investigate, the matter is converted to a complaint. If a complaint inquiry is not within HUD’s jurisdiction or HUD or an FHAP agency cannot make a jurisdictional determination, the inquiry is closed.
We found that HUD and FHAP agencies adequately documented decisions to convert inquiries to complaints in HEMS, but that closed inquiries need to be documented more adequately and consistently. Specifically, HEMS did not always include (1) adequate documentation supporting the recorded closure reason, (2) sufficient information supporting jurisdictional determinations made, and (3) letters properly notifying claimants when HUD lacked jurisdiction to pursue their allegations. These conditions occurred due to inconsistent and outdated HUD policies and procedures. Further, HUD officials stated that HUD staff’s ability to enter all information into HEMS was negatively impacted by the large volume of inquiries received, some of which may not have been related to fair housing issues. We also found that FHAP agencies did not enter complaint inquiries into HEMS when they decided not to investigate the allegations. HUD does not require them to enter these inquiries in HEMS and does not provide grant funding for entering this information. This gap renders HUD’s process for overseeing allegations closed during the inquiry stage incomplete. HUD’s management needs more complete information in HEMS to oversee jurisdictional determinations and ensure that HUD and FHAP agencies’ staff are assessing allegations of housing discrimination properly. As a result, HUD management does not have all the information it needs to ensure its FHAP agencies are performing as expected.
We recommend that HUD’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Enforcement update HUD Handbook 8024.01, REV-2, and regional intake policies and procedures as necessary and develop a process for overseeing allegations of housing discrimination that FHAP agencies close during the intake stage to ensure that closure and jurisdictional determinations are consistent the Fair Housing Act.