At least 60 families living in public housing in Arizona earn too much money to qualify for the benefit, according to an audit conducted by the U.S. Inspector General's Office.
As a result, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which funds many public-housing projects is recommending that these so-called "over-income families" be evicted.
"As of July 1, residents who are over-income for two years in a row will be evicted from public housing," Cindy Stotler, the City of Phoenix housing director, said.
Stotler says the 21 Phoenix families identified in the audit represent less than 1 percent of the 2,500 families currently living in public housing. Another 6,800 families receive housing vouchers in a program funded by HUD but administered by the City of Phoenix.
"In the city of Phoenix, over-income families are not a problem," Stotler said.
Housing officials verify the income of the families who benefit from the programs every year. But being over-income has not been the basis for eviction in the past.
Meantime, 20,000 families sit on a waiting list for public housing and thousands more are about to apply for housing vouchers when a new waiting list opens in August.
"If I got my voucher, I would be happy because at least I wouldn't have to worry about where I'm going to live," said Tina Martinez, who says she has been on a voucher waiting list for 14 years.
Martinez hopes the new rules will allow more needy people like herself to get housing. But with only 60 over-income families identified statewide and 20,000 on the waiting list, this will not even put a dent in the need.
"The over-income status is not a dominant factor for people not getting into public housing. It's actually more of not having enough public housing to serve those in need," Stotler said.
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