USA Today reported that 61 regional housing agencies with track-records of mishandling funds will collectively receive $300 million from the stimulus package. Although the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) claims they will be keeping a close eye on their regional partners, watchdog groups warn taxpayers of the high likelihood of funds disappearing. USA Today’s watch-list, which features cities as disparate as Petersberg, VA and Oakland, CA, was compiled with the help of a Boston College academic and audit expert.
HUD’s rationale is that in spite of their track records, these regional agencies (and the citizens they serve) should still have the opportunity to improve their housing programs; this strikes us as plausible yet still irresponsible. While citizens should not be penalized for the corrupt (or incompetent) performance of their civil servants, these funding decisions signal low accountability standards within the HUD system. What incentive is there for these regional agencies to reform if missing funds end up being replaced with new funding plans?
— Norah Mallaney