The Section 8 Housing program, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), is the federal government’s program for assisting very low-income families, the elderly and the disabled afford safe and decent housing in the private market.  Public Housing Agencies (PHAs), administer the federal funding through housing choice vouchers at the local level.  Once a renter finds housing that meets the PHA’s minimum standards of health and safety, a subsidy is paid to the landlord on behalf of the renter.  The renter is then responsible for paying the difference between the actual rent owed to the landlord and the amount of the subsidy.  To determine if an applicant is eligible for the federally funded housing benefit, the PHA collects personal information such as income, assets and current employment.  A story reported on nj.com describes the case of a New Jersey man who neglected to tell the truth about his income, while collecting $60,000 in rent subsidies over a five-year period.

The story details how a 32-year-old Newark man’s wife received the subsidies while living rent-free in a multi-family house owned by the husband. (How convenient to live with the landlord.) The couple allegedly agreed to keep this quiet from the Newark Housing Authority (NHA), who administers the program, so authorities say they did not report that the husband was living with the wife and was earning household income. (That would disqualify her from the program.)

The man pleaded guilty to conspiring to fraudulently obtain housing vouchers.  He was sentenced to three months behind bars and two years of supervised release.  He was also ordered to repay the $60,000.  The wife has not been charged, but the investigation is still open.

The man, who was formerly employed in law enforcement, resigned from his job as part of his plea deal. However, it appears that he bounced back quickly and now runs a local courier service.  Couriers are known to be quick, so let’s hope he’ll be speedy in paying back the debt he owes to the taxpayers.

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  1. I think it’s time to hire investigators. When a woman has a husband or vice versa. They say spouse is not living with them. It’s time to send out an investigator. Just like welfare sends out investigators. So should section 8. There are too many people living at the poverty level who at times cannot receive any help. Then you see the ones with beautiful cars, nails done and an Iphone. These people qualify for help. The system needs to change. Just like government needs to change. The wealthy get wealthier. The clients that scam the system are hurting the poor.

  2. Detecting the landlord/tenant relationship as husband and wife is not as easy as finding unreported income, etc. While the only information that is captured is what the tenant provides, the housing specialist who interview and review applications of those seeking housing assistance could eliminate a significant portion of these types of cases. But due to high demand on their time and lack of resources they usually take what the applicant provides and conduct no further inquiries.

    The more investigative inquiries arent’ usually conducted until a complaint is received. Income, legitimate income that is, can easily be identified through state corporate commissions. All you need is a name and SSN which can be obtained through Accurint and other investigative search sites. Proving income when somebody works for cash, or is paid under the table is a little more difficult to prove. In those cases you show that they had employment and didn’t report it and terminate their assistance based on that. Good luck in determining the amount of overpayments made. Sometimes you just cut your losses and eat it.

    Determining a husband/wife relationship can sometimes be obtained through circuit court marriage license records, police incident reports, land records, tax assesment offices, DMV, etc. Again, if the applicant doesn’t reveal this…or the tenant or landlord uses false or maiden names that isn’t neccassarily checked by those reviewing applications. I’ve had cases where the applicant uses her maiden name on almost everything except her marriage license. They make no effort to change their last hames on utilities, bank accounts, etc. But eventually they slip up and you can even catch them signing their married name on recertification applications.

    I’d welcome any other investigative methods or techniques that have been proven useful. Just e-mail me.

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