GOP Senator to HUD: Cut Waste, Fraud in Light of Sequestration

In a letter dated March 8, Sen. Tom Coburn from Oklahoma wrote to Secretary Shaun Donovan to highlight responsible ways to cut spending in light of the sequester. The Oklahoma Republican emphasized cutting wasteful and fraudulent activities at HUD.

“For years, HUD has awarded millions of dollars to slumlords and to [Public Housing Authorities] that overpaid executive directors and board members,” Coburn wrote in his letter. “Sadly, the tenants are the ones who suffer from the horrible conditions and total mismanagement even though the funding is available to fix the substandard conditions.”

The examples of fraud and waste Coburn pointed out to Donovan included $1 billion provided to the New York Housing Authority (NYCHA) that Coburn said has been unspent despite widespread reports of mice, leaky roofs, and broken locks. He further pointed to another $42 million also allocated to NYCHA for security cameras that the city has not yet used.

The NYCHA wasn’t the only housing authority Coburn pointed to. He also pointed out the indicted former PHA executive director in Massachusetts who underreported his salary for years. And in Los Angeles, Coburn cited the embezzlement of $520,000 by two brothers of the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles executive director from funding that should have gone to assist low-income people.

“There are about 4,000 PHAs across the country participating in HUD’s public housing and/or voucher programs, managing over $24 billion in federal aid. Opportunities to improve finances across these programs are vast,” Coburn noted. “The benefit is protecting services for the most vulnerable. Over 700 PHAs were scored just last year by HUD as having substandard management or finances,” Coburn continued. “The agency also needs to examine every option possible to encourage local PHAs to consolidate and streamline their administrative costs to better serve public housing needs.”


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