TV-6 Investigates: Public Housing Incomes - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

TV-6 Investigates: Public Housing Incomes

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Public housing is designed to give people a lift up.

They're affordable apartments for people with very little money.

TV-6 Investigates has found there are families making nearly $100,000 living in public housing.

We spent months analyzing thousands of income records for people in public housing all across the Quad Cities.

Several of the housing authorities have residents earning annual incomes above the qualifying income line.

Clinton Housing has a family earning $91,274, $38,924 over the limit.

Rock Island Housing has a family earning $63,498, $23,298 over the limit.

Whiteside County has a family earning $136,842, $99,492 over the limit.

Why are these families in public housing?

Because there are no rules forcing them out.

"I can see people being frustrated with it, but unfortunately that's just the way the game is played, you get on the list, you wait your turn," says Harold Tobin.

He has called the William Young apartments home for the last five years. Tobin waited six months to get into his apartment and he says he was lucky. Many aren't so lucky, because there are families making $80,000 and more living in public housing. That's thousands of dollars over the limit to get in.

"We have a waiting list that is as long as my arms and people have been waiting for about five years," says Moline Housing Authority Director John Afoun.

He says Moline's list has over 500 people on it. The Greater Metropolitan Housing Authority serves the rest of Rock Island County. (Excluding the Rock Island Housing Authority.) Its list has 700 people on it. Director Diane Fuller says there aren't enough apartments to go around.

"We could use more affordable housing in our community, families do struggle looking for housing in our county," says Fuller.

Both of these housing authorities have families earning well over the limit to get in.

Greater Metro has five. One earns $84,000. $30,000 more than the limit to get in. Moline has 37 families above the limit. The big earner there brings in $81,000. $46,000 over the limit. Neither housing authority evicts people for making too much money.

"It's a double edged situation really, the government is looking at it from the point of not breaking up communities, but on the other hand they're preventing people from coming in," says Afoun.

U.S. Housing and Urban Development says that's completely legal. It's up to the local housing authorities.

"If they like their apartment and they are paying their rent, and it's in the right school district for them, that's the best choice for them," says Fuller.

Everyone has to meet the income limits to qualify. In the Quad Cities, that's $50,000 for a family of four. If somebody gets a job and makes more money that's good for them. Their rent goes up too and that's better for the housing authority.

"It's affordable housing, it's not free housing, it's affordable housing and many individuals do choose to stay," says Fuller.

Afoun says his staff connects people with home ownership programs if their incomes improve. He says six families have moved on during his four years in charge. He'd like more, but moving out carries a risk. If someone's income goes down, their rent or mortgage doesn't change, unlike in public housing. That's why Tobin plans to call his public housing apartment home, for years to come.

"If my income changed, my wife was already in public housing if i would pass away or something, she would need help and this way she could afford this place," says Tobin.

Many more want that safety net too, but are stuck waiting until an apartment opens up.

Here's the data for all six housing authorities we found with residents making over the income limit.

TV-6 Investigates also compiled a list of wait list data for the housing authorities as well.

Here are the statements that didn't make the television version of this story.

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