The Washington Post conducted a year-long investigation into the HOME program and published stories on May 15 and 16. The stories were very negative reporting that HUD “looks the other way,” enabling the HOME program to “result in a trail of failed developments.”
HUD responded with a post on its HUDdle blog titled “Setting the Record Straight,” that it has always taken action to remedy any misuse of HOME, and has accelerated efforts since 2009. Examples include:
- Seeking repayment of HOME funds that are uncommitted, unspent, or misspent, resulting in local governments repaying or forfeiting 100% of the time and yielding more than $250 million over the life of the program.
- Notifying HOME grantees in June 2010 that HUD would begin to automatically cancel projects that fail to get underway and draw down funds in over a year. Since January 2011, HUD has canceled 1,778 activities, freeing up $290 million for viable projects.
The HOME program has long provided various performance reports on its website. Advocates can see which HOME projects are “open” in their communities and how long they have been open, as well as the last date of fund drawdown at http://www.hud.gov/offices/cpd/affordablehousing/reports/open.
Other reports, such as Deadline Compliance Status Reports, Expiring Funds Reports, HUD Initiated Activity Cancelation Reports, and Vacant Units Reports can be found at http://www.hud.gov/offices/cpd/affordablehousing/reports.
A number of national organizations are defending the program with letters to the editor and opinion pieces, and providing examples of the people and communities that have benefitted from HOME. The aim is to provide the whole story prior to an early June hearing by the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies, which is now likely to focus on doubts raised by the articles. This hearing, originally scheduled for May 24, has been postponed until after Memorial Day recess (see article elsewhere in Memo).
NLIHC posted a response on its blog, which can be found at: http://nlihc.wordpress.com/2011/05/23/the-real-scandal/
“Million Dollar Wasteland” is at http://www.washingtonpost.com/2010/07/08/AFxelh3G_page.html
HUD’s blog post titled “Setting the Record Straight” is at http://blog.hud.gov/2011/05/19/setting-record-straight-washington-post-wrong-home-program
HUD’s blog post titled “The HOME Program Works” is at http://blog.hud.gov/2011/05/15/home-program-works