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We audited the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) oversight of lead in the water of Housing Choice Voucher Program and public housing program (assisted) units based on our goal of strengthening the soundness of public and Indian housing.  The audit was part of the activities in our fiscal year 2019 audit plan.  Our objective was to determine whether HUD’s Office of Public and Indian Housing had sufficient policies, procedures, and controls to ensure that households living in assisted units had a sufficient supply of safe drinking water.

HUD’s Office of Public and Indian Housing did not have sufficient policies, procedures, and controls to ensure that households living in assisted units had a sufficient supply of safe drinking water.  Public housing agencies had assisted units served by public water systems that reported levels of lead above the Environmental Protection Agency’s lead action level.  However, HUD had limited requirements concerning lead in the drinking water of assisted units and generally did not require public housing agencies to take action regarding the potential for lead in the drinking water.  These weaknesses occurred because HUD relied on the Agency to ensure that public water systems provided water that was safe to drink.  As a result, HUD lacked assurance that households, including households with children age 6 or under, lived in assisted units that had a sufficient supply of safe drinking water.

We recommend that the General Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public and Indian Housing develop and implement an action plan that includes sufficient policies, procedures, and controls that address households living in assisted units having a sufficient supply of safe drinking water.