Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Committee on Financial Services, introduced legislation with 14 other California Democrats representing the County of Los Angeles to address concerns with the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) initiative to consolidate its multifamily offices, known as the “Multifamily Transformation.” The initiative is currently being implemented in certain regions across the country and the Los Angeles field office will be affected during the fifth and final phase beginning in September.
The bill is cosponsored by Reps. Karen Bass, Xavier Becerra, Julia Brownley, Tony Cárdenas, Judy Chu, Janice Hahn, Ted Lieu, Alan Lowenthal, Grace F. Napolitano, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Linda T. Sánchez, Brad Sherman, Norma Torres, and Adam Schiff.
The measure, entitled the “Preserving HUD’s Multifamily Field Offices Act of 2016,” seeks to preserve adequate asset management staff in each of HUD’s 54 Multifamily field offices across the country. HUD’s Office of Multifamily Housing and its network of field offices oversee nearly 30,000 federally-insured multifamily properties, and the asset management staff in particular are responsible for managing this growing and increasingly complex portfolio. In response to concerns about shortages of asset management staff in field offices as a result of the Multifamily Transformation, this bill would require HUD to backfill all asset management positions in every field office and would authorize the appropriation of any funds that are necessary to implement this action.
“Today I am introducing a bill that would ensure that HUD has enough human capital to be responsive to tenants living in its federally-insured multifamily properties across the country,” said Ranking Member Waters. “Since HUD announced its plan to drastically consolidate its network of Multifamily offices, I have worked with my colleagues in the Los Angeles delegation to voice our concerns, particularly as it affects the Los Angeles field office—one of the busiest in the country.”
“Tenants and property owners rely on local HUD staff to answer their questions and provide timely assistance,” said Rep. Becerra. “I’m proud to cosponsor Ranking Member Waters’ legislation to help ensure that HUD Multifamily field offices have the necessary staffing to adequately serve and respond to the local needs and concerns of their communities. Having the right level of staff is critical in places like Los Angeles where the Multifamily office is one of the busiest in the country.”
The Department’s initial Transformation plan would have completely closed and relocated dozens of offices across the country. Ranking Member Waters has been at the forefront of this issue, working with other Members of the Los Angeles delegation to continually voice their concerns with HUD’s plan. Waters also successfully introduced an amendment to the fiscal year 2015 HUD funding bill that required HUD to stick to a modified version of the Transformation plan, which maintains asset management staff in all existing field offices. However, there continue to be concerns that HUD is not replacing asset management staff vacancies in most field offices, and only hiring new asset management staff in the new consolidated core offices. This has led to the closure of two field offices already and severe under-staffing in several other offices. Waters has underscored the importance of having asset management staff in local field offices to respond to local needs, citing their intimate knowledge of the local housing market and the necessity of on-site visits to troubled properties.
Waters added, “I remain very concerned that the implementation of the Multifamily Transformation is not being carried out in a way that keeps enough asset management staff in all of our field offices. The Los Angeles office is already struggling with several vacancies that have not been replaced by HUD. If this trend continues, we will lose this critical asset in our county. ”
The text of legislation can be found here.