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The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Office of Inspector General, audited HUD’s Office of Multifamily Housing Programs’ health and safety complaint process.  We conducted this audit due to a July 2019 explosion that occurred at the Calloway Cove Apartments, a Multifamily housing property in Jacksonville, FL, which resulted in a fire that injured several people.  HUD’s Real Estate Assessment Center had identified life-threatening health and safety deficiencies at the property for several years, and there had been separate concerns related to health and safety issues at this complex, which appear to have gone unaddressed and may have led to the fire.  Our audit objective was to determine whether HUD ensured that health and safety complaints associated with Multifamily Section 8-assisted housing were resolved in a timely manner.

HUD’s complaint process did not ensure that health and safety complaints were resolved in a timely manner.  On average, it took 2.5 days to resolve the life-threatening health and safety issues reviewed, including 3 days to resolve a gas leak issue.  It took an average of 17 days to resolve the non-life-threatening health and safety issues, including 175 days to resolve an infestation problem.  For the purpose of this audit, we determined reasonable benchmark resolution times to be 24 hours for resolving life-threatening health and safety issues and 72 hours for non-life-threatening health and safety issues.  This condition occurred because HUD did not have a standardized, effective process for monitoring, tracking, and resolving complaints in a timely manner.  As a result, Multifamily housing tenants were, in some instances, faced with unhealthy and dangerous living environments for extended periods.

We recommend that the Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Multifamily Housing Programs (1) develop a comprehensive process to ensure that complaints received by the Multifamily Housing Clearinghouse are resolved in a timely manner; (2) develop agencywide policies and procedures for the intake, monitoring, and tracking of health and safety complaints; (3) develop an automated real-time system for receiving, tracking, and resolving health and safety issues; and (4) revise the annual contributions contract to more clearly define contractor and property management responsibilities and deadlines for resolving health and safety issues.

Recommendation Status Date Issued Summary
2021-KC-0004-001-A Open July 28, 2021

Develop a comprehensive process to ensure that complaints received by HUD’s Multifamily Housing Clearinghouse are resolved in a timely manner.


Status

HUD has requested as part of its fiscal year 2024 budget within the Information Technology Fund for system enhancements to coordinate tenant complaints throughout Multifamily Housing, the performance based contract administrators, and the Multifamily Clearinghouse call center. Housing has not received funding for the FHA Resource Center.


Analysis

To fully address this recommendation, HUD must provide evidence that it has transitioned the Multifamily Clearinghouse responsibilities to the FHA resource center and that it has finished developing, has implemented, and is successfully using the FHA’s automated monitoring system. Implementation of this recommendation will result in a timelier resolution of complaints submitted by those living in multifamily member housing units.

2021-KC-0004-001-B Open July 28, 2021

Develop agencywide policies and procedures for the intake, monitoring, and tracking of health and safety complaints.


Status

HUD has requested as part of its fiscal year 2024 budget within the Information Technology Fund for system enhancements to coordinate tenant complaints throughout Multifamily Housing, the performance based contract administrators, and the Multifamily Clearinghouse call center. Housing has not received funding for the FHA Resource Center.


Analysis

To fully address this recommendation, HUD must provide evidence that it has transitioned the Multifamily Clearinghouse responsibilities to the FHA resource center and that it has finished developing, has implemented, and is successfully using the FHA’s automated monitoring system. Implementation of this recommendation will result a timelier resolution of complaints submitted by those living in multifamily member housing units.

2021-KC-0004-001-C Open July 28, 2021 Develop an automated real-time system for HUD and PBCA staff to use to receive, track, and resolve health and safety issues.
2021-KC-0004-001-D Open July 28, 2021 Revise the annual contributions contract to more clearly define the required treatment of health and safety issues, to include: • Specific timeliness requirements for resolving life-threatening and non-life-threatening health and safety issues. • Notification that HUD will actively monitor the status of complaints and become involved in resolution if necessary. • Requirement that PBCAs will immediately contact HUD staff if a property has a life-threatening or non-life-threatening health and safety issue and report when the issue is resolved. • Requirement that the projects’ property management will immediately contact PBCA staff if a property has a life-threatening or non-life-threatening health and safety issue and report when the issue is resolved.