Press Releases

Jaime Herrera Beutler Secures Measure Forcing Federal Agency to Report Flawed Income Data used in Lewis County

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Washington, DC, July 18, 2017 | comments
U.S. Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler’s legislative measure requiring transparency in data used by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) passed in the U.S. House Appropriations Committee last night.
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U.S. Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler’s legislative measure requiring transparency in data used by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) passed in the U.S. House Appropriations Committee last night.

This Jaime-authored legislation would require HUD to report every area across the country where data used to determine eligibility has a margin of error 20% or higher, and report these findings to the U.S. House and Senate Committees on Appropriations within 90 days. This requirement would impact rural communities in Lewis County that, based on inaccurate household income data, were determined to be “too affluent” to qualify for Community Development Block Grants (CDBG). This effort mirrors Jaime’s earlier provision and will force HUD to produce ongoing reports through the next year.

“This agency is supposed to return tax dollars to the communities that need it most, but it has made serious mistakes in disqualifying communities like Toledo, Pe Ell and Vader for being ‘too affluent.’ It can’t cover up these mistakes if this legislation becomes law,” said Jaime. “After years of pressuring for transparency, my efforts will again require HUD to make the extent of inaccuracy of its data public - and it will be held accountable for its reporting errors. While it shouldn’t take an act of Congress to get a public agency to provide basic transparency, I’m not going to let up on this issue or the needs of our rural communities until we have a long-term solution.”

Jaime was also able to secure a provision that requires HUD to formulate alternative ways to measure a community’s income level other than the flawed data it has been using that has margins of error as high as 91.5%.

The next step for this measure will be a vote on the U.S. House floor.

Background Info:

HUD calculates the low-and-moderate income (LMI) data, used to determine CDBG eligibility, based on a five year average of the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) data. The most recent five year average of ACS data, that includes four years of increased oversampling by Census, had  up to a 91.5% margin of error for small towns in Lewis County. While HUD acknowledges income data for small rural communities can be inaccurate, it doesn’t currently make the margin of error for the agency’s LMI data public. 

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