City bungling housing assistance program

Blaisdell 1.1

In the midst of Honolulu’s devastating homelessness crisis, the city government is poorly managing a housing subsidy program for the needy and failing to reach out to landlords to make more affordable rental housing available, according to a new audit.

The Civil Beat website has a good report on the audit.  Some excerpts:

“The audit found that while the program meets federal requirements, not enough is being done to prevent fraud and recruit landlords. And even though the subsidy is touted as a way to reduce homelessness, the city doesn’t have data showing that’s actually happening.”

“Even though the program has $1.55 million in delinquent accounts, it doesn’t have a debt collector, use a collection agency or write off the debt, which is expected to increase”

In other words, there seem to be no repercussions for tenants who don’t pay their portion of the city-subsidized rent.  That allows scofflaws to game the system while deserving families remain out on the street.

“Over the past seven years, the number of landlords participating in the program has declined by 8.5 percent even though the demand for low-income housing is still strong.”

Actually, the demand for low-income housing is ENORMOUS.  Obviously.  So with the housing market so strong, it must be very difficult to recruit landlords into a rental housing subsidy program.

But it seems that the city is not even trying:

“In one instance, the city held an informational briefing for landlords but only advertised it by putting up a flier outside of DCS offices. Only one person showed up, and that person wasn’t even interested in the city’s program.”

That’s just so ridiculous.  It’s probably a case in which the city is required to conduct an outreach effort so went through the motions of doing so in order to check off a box somewhere.  Typical.

The city’s response?

“Civil Beat requested an interview with department officials who run the Section 8 program Wednesday. Instead, a spokesman for Mayor Kirk Caldwell emailed a written statement that he said should be attributed to Gary Nakata, the department head.”

And the statement is just a predictable platitude that really says nothing.

This is all just so ridiculously incompetent and disgusting.

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