We audited the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) oversight of its public housing agencies’ (PHA) reasonable accommodation policies and procedures. We initiated this audit because we identified an increase in housing discrimination complaints based on a failure to provide a reasonable accommodation, even as the total number of all housing discrimination complaints was decreasing. Our audit objective was to determine whether HUD had adequate policies and procedures for ensuring that PHAs properly addressed, assessed, and fulfilled requests for reasonable accommodation, including COVID-19 related requests.
HUD did not have adequate policies and procedures for ensuring that PHAs properly addressed, assessed, and fulfilled requests for reasonable accommodation. HUD also did not perform civil rights front-end reviews as required. These conditions occurred because HUD (1) did not include in its compliance monitoring guidance a requirement for personnel to review PHAs reasonable accommodation policies and procedures, (2) had not updated its guidance to ensure that it was centralized, and (3) did not believe it was responsible for conducting civil rights front-end reviews. As a result, PHAs did not receive consistent oversight in this area nationwide and may not be properly implementing existing requirements or not understand all their responsibilities related to requests for reasonable accommodation. Also, HUD’s Office of Public and Indian Housing (PIH) did not have the benefit of the information the reviews would have collected and HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) could not use the information to address issues that may have been identified or to pursue any corrective action.
We recommend that HUD’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Housing and Voucher Programs (1) update its compliance monitoring guidance to include a requirement for personnel to review PHAs reasonable accommodations policies and procedures (2) update and consolidate its reasonable accommodation policies and procedures to ensure that there is centralized guidance available for the field offices and PHAs; (3) conduct additional outreach efforts to educate tenants and PHAs on their rights and responsibilities related to requests for reasonable accommodation; (4) require that PHAs track requests for reasonable accommodation, including the date of the request, the type of request, and the disposition and date of any action taken that should be made available to HUD at its request; (5) review the joint agreement with HUD FHEO, and related Section 504 checklist, and modify, update, or recommit to it to ensure that the roles and responsibilities of the Office of Public and Indian Housing for conducting civil rights front-end reviews is clearly defined; and (6) ensure that personnel receive training on how to conduct the civil rights front-end reviews, including a review of PHAs reasonable accommodation policies and procedures.