HUD needs to rethink this policy

Perhaps you have done well during the past few years. When you got married, you and your spouse didn’t have two dimes to rub together. Your low family income qualified you easily for government-subsidized housing.

Then both of you worked hard and moved up. Regular pay raises boosted your income. You began to worry you’d have to move out of your apartment because, clearly, your situation wasn’t what public housing advocates had in mind.

Don’t worry. You can stay – even if that means families who really need the help won’t get it. Your income was checked once before you moved in, and the federal government hasn’t asked about it since.

Outrageous? You bet. A federal inspector general found more than 25,000 “over-income” tenants in public facilities operated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. They had not been asked to move because no one had bothered with regular checks on income.

Meanwhile, thousands of low-income families wait for their turns.

No one has suggested forcing families in low-income housing out on the street if their resources cross a certain line. Perhaps a sliding scale of rents could be implemented to allow some to stay where they are while paying more realistically for housing.

But the HUD approach – verify once, then trust forever – is an example of lazy bureaucracy that should not be tolerated.