House Adopts Waters Amendment to Halt Closure of LA’s HUD Field Office
The House of Representatives has adopted a measure authored by Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43) that would halt the closure of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) multifamily field office in Los Angeles. The measure, which was adopted during debate over a housing and transportation funding bill, prohibits HUD from using funds appropriated to relocate asset management staff as part of the controversial Multifamily Housing Transformation Initiative, thereby preventing the closure of offices in Los Angeles and other areas of the country.
HUD's Office of Multifamily Housing Programs is responsible for the overall management, development, direction and administration of HUD's Multifamily Housing Programs. The Department’s full Transformation Initiative is designed to consolidate 50 field offices into just 12, relocate production and asset management staff, and restructure HUD’s multifamily field offices nationwide.
“When HUD announced its plans for a major restructuring of Multifamily field offices nationwide, I was deeply concerned. The shortcomings of HUD’s relocation plan are not more obvious than right here in the 43rd District, where its decision would close the Los Angeles field office, uproot its entire staff and re-locate its operations to a another regional center that would be responsible for more than double its current workload and face the daunting task of serving 73 million people across 14 states,” said Waters, the top Democrat on the Financial Services Committee.
“This measure will ensure that the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Los Angeles multifamily asset management staff remains locally based, connected to communities and on-the-ground to serve as the eyes and ears of lawmakers,” she added.
Waters is a vocal opponent of HUD’s Multifamily Transformation in its entirety. On the House floor, she underscored that HUD’s plan fails to acknowledge the critical importance of staff who are living and working in the communities they are serving. These individuals, she said, understand the unique nature of each housing market, and have an awareness of each region’s unique characteristics.
She reiterated her concern that the reorganization would adversely affect delivery of services by reducing staff’s ability to effectively respond to unique local concerns – and remain connected to community leaders. Indeed, staff would have less interaction with owners and managers, and responsive walk-in assistance would be eliminated for thousands of people that rely on Multifamily offices.
Waters added, “California was one of the hardest hit states by the financial collapse, and too many families suffered from the subsequent wave of foreclosures. With our housing market still struggling to recover, we cannot afford to undercut what little progress we have made with a radical overhaul of HUD’s infrastructure.”
While the amendment only addresses some of her concerns – and would not stop the Transformation altogether – it would codify the recent agreement between HUD and both House and Senate appropriators to keep asset management staff on-site, and leave all existing Multifamily offices open. The U.S. Senate directed HUD to adhere to this agreement last week.
The amendment was adopted to the controversial Transportation-Housing and Urban Development funding bill, which makes dramatic cuts to important housing and transportation programs. While it is likely to pass the House, the bill will face a difficult reconciliation process with legislation passed by the U.S. Senate.