Failed QC Inspection Forces HACP to Remove 300-Plus Properties from Voucher Program

March 23, 2009
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Since instituting more stringent quality controls in 2008, the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh (HACP) has removed more than 300 properties from its Housing Choice Voucher Program (formerly Section 8) as a result of failed Housing Quality Standards (HQS) inspections.

At the beginning of 2008, the HACP initiated an agency-wide effort to improve the quality controls and customer service within its Housing Choice Voucher Program. As part of this effort, the HACP also required its housing inspectors to obtain HQS inspection certification, provided by a third-party vendor. “The effort has yielded strict compliance with the quality standards by both tenants and HCV Program landlords,” stated a press release issued by the HACP. “In turn, this has greatly reduced the possibility of a tenant using their Housing Voucher toward an apartment or house that does not meet HUD’s Housing Quality Standards.”

In calendar year 2008, the HACP issued more than 3,300 inspection failure notices and 374 final failure notices. Final failure is the result of two failed inspections, and results in the discontinuation of a Housing Assistance Payment for a particular property. These calendar year 2008 numbers represented an increase of more than 1,300 failed inspections and 320 final failures compared to calendar year 2007.

A. Fulton Meachem, Jr., executive director of the HACP, said that the “primary goal of this effort was to increase accountability, on the part of the tenant, the landlord, and the Housing Authority. We demanded more from our housing inspectors, instructed HCV tenant participants to strictly adhere to the terms of their leases, and placed additional requirements on all participating landlords.”

The HACP, which also launched an HCV Program customer service hotline, reports fielding approximately 15 calls per week since starting the service in June 2008.