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Rubio Introduces Bill to Reform HUD Inspection Process, Hold Slumlords Accountable
Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rick Scott (R-FL) introduced the HUD Inspection Reform and Capital Improvement Act to require that U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) health and sanitation inspections take place according to a reasonable federal timeline that HUD take enforcement action on failing properties to protect tenants, and to increase the Department’s authority to hold agency staff accountable for misconduct.
Rubio introduced the first iteration of this bill in April 2019 following a long fight with slumlords, Global Ministries Foundation, over the mismanagement of Eureka Gardens in Jacksonville, Florida. The current version reflects recent findings of severe mismanagement in HUD’s Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance program, brought to light by the unsafe and unsanitary conditions at the Hilltop Village, Eastside Terrace, and Eastside Gardens apartment complexes in Jacksonville, Florida.
“The horrifying conditions at several HUD properties throughout Florida are the result of severe negligence by HUD,” Rubio said. “As a result of HUD’s lack of oversight, slumlords like Andrew Podray and Global Ministries Foundation have gotten away with absolutely shocking behavior. We need to protect low income housing residents by ensuring that inspections take place according to a federally-mandated timeline and by holding irresponsible employees accountable for failing to do their jobs.”
“I grew up in public housing while my parents worked hard every day to put food on our table, and I know firsthand that the last thing families need is to worry about unsafe living conditions,” R. Scott said. “I’m proud to join Senator Rubio to introduce the HUD Inspection Reform and Capital Improvement Act to ensure every family can live in a safe, healthy home, and that bad-actors are held accountable. Our housing programs should always work in the best interests of American families, and I urge my colleagues to join us in passing this important bill.”
Provisions maintained from the 2019 bill:
- Allows the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to remove certain HUD employees from civil service or reduce the grade or pay for misconduct or performance. HUD employees may challenge removal or reduction in grade or pay by filing an appeal with the Merit Systems Protection Board.
- Protects whistleblowers who report misconduct to the Office of Special Counsel (OSC).
- Allows the Secretary of HUD to better enforce safe and sanitary standards in federal housing.
- Requires HUD to publish housing reports that detail inspection scores of facilities, as well as actions taken to protect the health and safety of affected tenants. The Secretary would have the ability to impose civil monetary penalties, transfer ownership away from slumlords, and prohibit them from other federal programs.
- Strengthens enforcement standards included in the original bill.
- Requires an annual public report for all properties receiving Real Estate Assessment Center (REAC) scores of less than 65/100 (60/100 is passing).
- Includes new sections that codify into law inspection timelines for Section 8 PBRA properties based on inspections score results.
- Provides a process that would allow for budget-based rental adjustments of formerly neglected properties transferred by HUD to responsible owners for physical rehabilitation. This would not lead to increased rent contributions from tenants.
- July 14, 2021: Rubio Blasts Jacksonville Slumlord, “stomach-churning”
- June 30, 2021: Rubio Requests HUD Take Immediate Action at Cambridge Management Properties in Florida
- May 21, 2021: Rubio Directs HUD to Resume Inspections of 29 Low-Income Properties Throughout Florida
- May 5, 2021: Rubio Requests HUD Take Immediate Action at Hilltop Village Apartments in Jacksonville
- April 30, 2021: Rubio Requests HUD Take Immediate Action at Eastside Terrace and Eastside Gardens Apartments in Jacksonville