The Department of Housing and Urban Development has announced its’ findings related to the investigation of allegations of housing fraud by a Cook County couple.
According to a press release by HUD, “… a Cook County, Illinois couple committed fraud by accepting housing assistance they were not qualified to receive in order to rent a property they jointly owned.”
HUD had conducted an investigation into a married couple’s attempts to get rental assistance for a property they own in Matteson, Illinois. HUD alleges that in 2006 the couple, Korey Sloan and Christie Caldwell, and their four children “sought rental assistance from the Housing Authority of Cook County (HACC) to lease the home from Sloan, who posed as an unrelated landlord”.
HUD further states that Caldwell “denied any relationship” with Sloan and any ownership interest in the property “while the family continued to reside in the home”.
This resulted in the couple being awarded rent subsidies that should not have been awarded. This, HUD alleges, continued for seven years.
The HUD Office of Inspector General has referred this case to the Illinois Attorney General; HUD can also take action on the case under something known as the Program Fraud Civil Remedies Act (PFCRA).
Apparently the couple failed to respond to these charges, resulting in an Administrative Law Judge ruling that “by failing to respond to the complaint, the couple admitted to defrauding the Housing Choice Voucher Program and is therefore liable for penalties totaling $25,830.”
This is an important lesson for those who do not believe there is oversight over such programs or active investigations to violations of federal or state law in connection with housing benefits.
It’s also an important example for those who may be skeptical that any real justice or enforcement of housing laws (including Fair Housing Act regulations) takes place. However, sometimes the only people capable of preventing further illegal or discriminatory acts by the perpetrators are the victims of such acts.
If you suspect housing fraud or feel you have been the victim of discrimination in the housing process (at ANY stage including rentals), contact the HUD Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 927-9275 (TTY).