Report: Public housing residents defrauding food stamps

A report on fraud and waste in Rhode Island's human services delivery focused on food stamp fraud, among other things, and found a significant issue with residents in the Providence Housing Authority gaming the system.

For 35 years, Deborah Wray has lived in Hartford Park, a Providence Housing Authority complex.

"I really believe with all my heart that the majority of people here are truly doing it the right way," Wray said.

The report found, among other things, that more than one-third of Providence housing residents that get Section 8 housing assistance are either under-reporting or not reporting their food stamp benefits -- as they're supposed to do -- to the tune of about $2 million in fraud.

"I find that very surprising because of the criteria we have in public housing. We have rules and regulations. We have things we have to abide by. So, if there is anybody getting over with a EBT card, which is food stamps, pat themselves on the back, because it's really, really hard to do that," Wray said.

The report also found dead people and prison inmates getting food stamp benefits -- and those cards actively being used at stores.

The report also documented recipients selling EBT cards to retailers, as the NBC10 I-Team showed two years ago.

Gov. Lincoln Chafee said the state is working on wiping out fraud, with things like updated computers.

"It's going to be a difficult task but it doesn't mean we're not going to pursue it with every bit of our vigor, which we are doing," Chafee said.

The report outlines a number of possible solutions, including law enforcement action, kicking abusers out of the programs, and better communication between government agencies.