The federal government’s inspection system for public housing suffered a major technical failure that forced inspections to be canceled for two weeks, according to groups representing housing providers.  

The Department of Housing and Urban Development stopped conducting mandatory health and safety inspections from May 6 until Monday, according to staff members of the Public Housing Authorities Directors Association and LeadingAge, a nonprofit that represents nursing homes and HUD-funded senior housing providers, based on their conversations with federal officials.

The federal government conducts about 20,000 inspections every year to ensure that its subsidized housing for low-income residents is “decent, safe and sanitary,” as required under federal law.

In a statement to NBC News, HUD attributed the stoppage to “a failed update from our IT vendor” and confirmed that inspections resumed Monday. “The safety and security of residents in properties participating in HUD assisted housing programs is a top priority,” the agency added.

HUD did not respond to questions about when the information technology failure began or how many inspections were affected. 

Millsapps, Ballinger & Associates, a Virginia-based technology company that developed the inspection software platform, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.  

The stoppage is the latest challenge that HUD has faced in revamping its inspection system, which it has spent years developing. 

The new system, known as NSPIRE, aims to address long-standing concerns that HUD’s inspections weren’t rigorous enough and allowed health and safety problems to fester for years. The overhaul strengthened standards for carbon monoxide detectors, fire alarms and mold remediation, and focused more on residential units than the external appearance of the properties — changes that drew praise from many housing advocates. 

In 2022, HUD awarded Millsapps, Ballinger & Associates up to $7 million to develop the software platform for its new system. 

Since NSPIRE’s launch last year, some housing groups have flagged issues with its implementation. At times, inspectors deducted points based on the old standards rather than the new ones, and providers were unable to appeal their inspection scores using the new software platform, according to the Public Housing Authorities Directors Association, or PHADA.

“There is a lot of frustration with HUD trying to move forward with these programs when HUD itself is not yet ready,” said Timothy Kaiser, executive director of PHADA. “They do not at times acknowledge realistically the challenges that they face.” 

Tenant advocates said they were alarmed to hear about the weeks of canceled inspections, which they warned could jeopardize the welfare of low-income residents living in substandard housing. 


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