NPR, Housing Program Worth Billions Lacks 'Basic Accountability':
An $8 billion federal program to build housing for the poor is so lacking oversight that virtually no one in government knows how it is working, a government auditor testified before Congress today [Low-Income Housing Tax Credit: Actions Needed to Strengthen Oversight and Accountability (GAO-17-784T) (Aug. 1, 2017)].
IRS and no one else in the federal government really has an idea of what's going on," said Daniel Garcia-Diaz, an auditor with the Government Accountability Office while testifying before the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance. "These are basic accountability requirements we would expect of any program, especially one as important as this one."
The program, called the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program, gives developers and investors billions of dollars in tax credits to build new affordable housing for tens of thousands of people each year. It is one of the federal government's two main programs to provide housing for the poor, along with the Section 8 rental assistance program.
But an investigation in May by NPR and the PBS program FRONTLINE found that LIHTC is producing fewer new units of housing each year while costing taxpayers 50 percent more in tax credit dollars — even after accounting for increasing construction costs.
Garcia Diaz said there is no way for government auditors to determine whether the projects are costing too much, whether developments are completed on time, or if the buildings are in compliance — because the IRS does not collect or maintain that data.
Diaz noted that the IRS has only audited seven of the 58 state agencies that administer the program in more than 30 years, and when audits were completed, significant problems were found.