Working for a public housing authority is a noble cause. Whether it be Section 8 housing or a HUD development, you are providing a service to those who need a little help with their housing situation. And no one expects that such a benevolent group could be capable of fraud, but sadly it happens, and it often goes undetected until it is too late. So, how can you go about protecting your PHA against fraud?
Fraud Can Happen Anywhere, to Anyone
In a small town in New England, such a fraudulent situation rocked the confidence of the townsfolk who have always trusted their local housing authority. The PHA manager was embezzling from tenants with the help of a resident that colluded with him to hide the infraction. He was stealing tenant rent payments, while at the same time erasing their names from the list of residents under the protection of the PHA.
When the residents sought legal representation to fight forced evictions, they no longer had a paper trail, and thus, lost the case. This went on for a while until eventually the manager slipped up and both men were sent to jail for housing fraud. The town was devastated by the betrayal and the tenants had trouble trusting the housing authority after the incident.
What could have prevented this? After all, this was a manager.
The first thing is oversight. Even the president of the United States has an oversight committee to keep his actions in check. So, why doesn’t a smaller agency under the umbrella of HUD also have its own oversight? Perhaps it is a budget issue. So, instead, it is up to the folks working in the PHA to keep each other honest and always be diligent and vigilant to the integrity of the office.
People’s living situations, and often, their lives, are in your hands. It is up to you to keep their money and their livelihood safe. And this sort of thing happens more often than people realize. When it is easy to siphon excess funds or embezzle from the unknowing, someone will let their lesser demons talk them into it. And once that gate is open, it is hard to close.
Vigilance is good, oversight is better, but the best tool to prevent fraud in your public housing agency is with software that keeps an eye on all money coming and going. It keeps your office staff honest, it keeps the residents honest, it cannot be tampered with and is easy to use for even the most technologically untalented folks.
One such program is a suite of software from Emphasys. Emphasys has taken the prevention of fraud and its passion for keeping good people safe and developed technology to help keep fraud at bay. Our proprietary system maintains a constant log of your tenants, their household living capacity, their finances, and lets the agency know if anything changes.
It also holds office staff accountable for anything they miss. It provides a constant paper trail that catches any discrepancy with accuracy and efficiency. You will know right away if anything is amiss and be able to address it before it gets out of control. If the Agency in New England had used Emphasys, this terrible situation would never have happened.
Protecting Your PHA Against Fraud
If you manage a public housing authority, you need to add Emphasys to your tool belt of effective fraud prevention options. With Emphasys’ software solution, you will have a greater scope over what is happening in your community and the ability to send reports to auditors and authorities if anything seems less than above board. The Emphasys suite of products is designed to keep you and your residents in mind, 24/7.