HUD to improve oversight of efforts to connect elderly with services

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HUD to improve oversight of efforts to connect elderly with services
HUD to improve oversight of efforts to connect elderly with services

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will develop guidance on monitoring Section 202 properties that have service coordinators by December, according to a report issued to Congress on Monday by the Government Accountability Office.

The promise was made in response to one of three recommendations that the GAO had for HUD, all of which the office said HUD agreed with.

HUD's Section 202 program funds supportive rental housing for very low-income elderly households, which the department defines as households in which at least one person is 62 years old and income is 50% or less of the median income in the area in which it is located. Section 202 property owners are expected to coordinate the provision of services needed to help residents live independently and age in place.

In its report, the GAO said that HUD not only needs to develop written guidance on assessing compliance with supportive services requirements but also needs to improve the accuracy of the data it has related to Section 202 properties with service coordinators and to create procedures for verifying and analyzing performance data.

HUD's data indicate that approximately 38% of the 7,229 Section 202 properties have HUD-funded service coordinators — staff members who link residents to supportive services such as transportation assistance or meals. The GAO puts the percentage closer to 50%, however, based on its survey of a sample of Section 202 properties not identified in HUD's data as having service coordinators.

“Federal internal control standards note that it is important for management to obtain relevant data from reliable sources,” the report noted. “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.”

To monitor those properties, however, HUD not only needs to be aware of them but also needs to have written policies and procedures that staff members can follow, according to the report. “Available guidance describes general monitoring procedures for multifamily properties but does not address Section 202 specifically,” the authors wrote. This is the guidance that HUD said it will provide by December.

HUD also needs to develop policies and procedures to verify the accuracy of the performance data it collects — for instance, on the number of services provided — and for analyzing the data collected, according to the report.

“Until HUD takes steps to assess service coordinator performance data for reliability and analyze the data reported, its ability to use that information to monitor whether service coordinators are performing effectively and helping to fulfill the goals of the Section 202 program will likely be limited,” the GAO said.

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