The Philadelphia Housing Authority has a 10 year waiting list with roughly 100,000 people on it, according to officials.
But while low income and homeless families wait, the NBC10 Investigators found some families were allowed to live in PHA properties while earning six figures.
Officials say 181 families living in PHA housing earn more than they’re allowed to. The Department of Housing and Urban Development refers to them as "over income."
“I believe that they’re serving an important purpose,” PHA president Kelvin Jeremiah said. “I believe that the fact that they’ve achieved some level of success while being in PHA, I want to be able to encourage that.”
Jeremiah said the 181 over income families make up a small percent of the 80,000 people living in PHA housing. He also said the over income families help the housing authority pay its bills.
“We want those families in public housing frankly because they pay more in rent,” he said.
According to PHA’s website rent makes up $24 million of the agency's $371 million dollar budget. Most of its money comes from the Department of Housing and Urban Development – which gave PHA more than $100 million in 2015.
In September HUD leadership encouraged Jeremiah and other public housing directors across the country to use the taxpayer money for “…those most in need of deeply affordable housing.”
“Public housing authorities have the discretion to evict families for being over income,” a HUD spokesperson told the NBC10 Investigators.
Jeremiah said some over income families pay as much as one thousand dollars a month in rent.
“I think if you’re making over the threshold to be eligible for public housing you should be gone,” Mayor-elect Jim Kenney said. “First we have to appoint a housing authority board that will deal with these issues and figure out how we remove people who are abusing the systems.”
PHA board chair Lynette Brown-Sow declined requests to speak to the NBC 10 Investigators for this story.
Kenney said he will take action once he is sworn in.
Pennsylvania has 750 over income families living in public housing according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. New Jersey has 755. Nation-wide there are 25,226.