A month ago the Washington Post published a series of stories about flaws in HUD's HOME program. This was a real gotcha investigation with the Post front page article using inflammatory language (e.g., HUD "squandered hundreds of millions of dollars" and experienced "widespread misspending and delays... with breakdowns at every level"). Turns out the 20 year old program didn't warrant all the fuss.
In response to the Post investigation, Congress called for hearings on the HOME program. Housing officials across the country were concerned. With Congress and the Administration looking to lop billions from the 2012 budget gap, the Post had created an attractive target for a cut.
At a June 3 hearing of the House Financial Services Committee, HUD was able to set the record straight. Not only did HUD refute the points made by the Post, HUD's testimony provided a comprehensive overview of the value of the HOME program and description of HUD's extensive procedures to ensure compliance with program rules.
Contributing to the defense, Mary Tingerthal provided Rep. Keith Ellison and other members of Minnesota's delegation an explanation of the three troubled Minnesota projects identified by the Post. In light of the convincing response made by HUD, the excitement caused by the Post story has pretty much dissipated, and the U.S. Senate, once expected to launch its own investigation, is now not expected to do so.
The HOME Program provides grants to States and localities, often in partnership with local nonprofits, for building, buying, and/or rehabilitating affordable housing. The program is used for rental and homeownership, and can provide direct rental assistance to low-income people.
In Minnesota, HOME funds are administered by Minnesota Housing, Hennepin County, the cities of Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Duluth, and two county consortia: one in the metro area headed by Dakota County and the other in northeast Minnesota headed by St. Louis County.
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