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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Washington Post Publishes Investigation of HUD, and it's not pretty

The Washington Post today published what appears to be the first in a series of investigative reports on wasteful spending by HUD, and the consequences of that waste for the poor.  According to the Post, it "analyzed a database of 5,100 open construction and renovation projects funded at $50,000 or more under the U.S Department and Housing and Urban Developmentā€™s HOME program."  It looked for projects that were:

launched more than five years ago that are still incomplete, projects that had not drawn money against their HUD accounts in at least 18 months or projects with other verified delays.

Overall, the newspaper identified an estimated 700 projects that were awarded $400 million; nearly 450 were launched in 2006 or earlier. In some cases, construction was completed, but the units are sitting vacant because housing agencies have not sold or leased them to a low-income family.

The Post also identified nearly 600 other projects that have never drawn any money despite being earmarked for a year or more, leaving $250 million languishing. HUD has begun canceling those projects.

Given that Congress is looking for areas to budget-cut, I suspect this series could be a game-changer for HUD.  That's unfortunate, because the need for affordable housing in the United States is enormous.  No doubt there is waste at HUD.  But I suspect that the committed and well-intentioned people at HUD are trapped by in a downward spiral: they aren't given enough resources to adequately oversee the projects they fund; with inadequate oversight, some of the projects they fund turn wasteful; when the waste is discovered, their resources are cut. 

The Post also has an interactive map of projects that are wasteful under its criteria.

It's investigative reporter, Debbie Cenziper, will answer questions from readers during a live chat at 1 p.m. Eastern, Monday May 16th.  You can post questions now.

It's well worth your time exploring the series.

Mark A. Edwards

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Comments

I read this article and thought it was an interesting read. I want to know what other sources have to say about it. The Post is a trusted and reliable source but wonder how their thoughts on the issues are used in conversation with other trusted sources about the issues at HUD. What are your thoughts?

Posted by: Michael | May 15, 2011 3:58:12 PM

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