Elderly Housing Report Cites Need to Improve Link to Resident Services
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently released a report titled “Elderly Housing: HUD Should Do More to Oversee Efforts to Link Residents to Services.” GAO estimates that roughly half of the 7,229 Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly (Section 202) properties have HUD-funded service coordinators—staff who link residents to supportive services such as transportation assistance or meals. HUD’s data indicate that 38 percent of Section 202 properties have a HUD-funded service coordinator, but these data likely underestimate the true number.
GAO surveyed a generalizable sample of Section 202 properties not identifiable in HUD’s data as having a service coordinator and, on this basis, estimates that an additional 12 percent of Section 202 properties actually had one—bringing the actual total of Section 202 properties with service coordinators to about 50 percent. Federal internal control standards note that it is important for management to obtain relevant data from reliable sources. Properties with service coordinators are subject to additional monitoring, but without accurate information, HUD risks not taking steps to monitor Section 202 properties with service coordinators to help ensure they are connecting residents to supportive services.
Properties without service coordinators connect residents to services in a variety of ways—for example, property managers may serve this function themselves, or they may utilize other local organizations. Several stakeholders told GAO that property managers are well positioned to know their residents, and have some insight into their needs. Others noted that property managers generally lack the time and expertise to effectively manage this responsibility, and that the manager’s role can conflict with that of the service coordinator. Through GAO’s survey and site visits, managers of Section 202 properties without service coordinators cited a variety of reasons for not employing them, including lack of funding and having too few units to justify hiring someone to focus on supportive services for the elderly residents.
HUD requires its staff to monitor Section 202 properties’ adherence to program requirements. However, HUD lacks written policies and procedures that describe how its staff should monitor the requirement for Section 202 property managers to coordinate the provision of supportive services. Available guidance describes general monitoring procedures for multifamily properties but does not address Section 202 specifically.
HUD officials told GAO they plan to develop guidance on monitoring Section 202 properties with service coordinator grants by December 2016. GAO also found that HUD collects performance data, such as the number of services provided, from Section 202 properties that have service coordinators but does not have policies or procedures in place to verify the accuracy of the data or for analyzing the data collected. Federal internal control standards also note the importance of evaluating data for reliability and processing data into quality information to evaluate performance.
GAO recommends that HUD: (1) improve the accuracy of its data on Section 202 properties with service coordinators; (2) develop written guidance on assessing compliance with supportive services requirements; and (3) develop procedures for verifying and analyzing performance data. HUD has concurred with GAO’s recommendations.