Mixed Reviews of HUD-Funded Affordable Housing Projects

May 17, 2011 | By Adrianne Fielding | Post a Comment

Amid all the chatter about the debt ceiling, other ceilings were the focus of a major investigation by The Washington Post that was unveiled on its front pages over the weekend. Its “Million-Dollar Wasteland” series takes a deep dive into $650 million in stalled or abandoned affordable housing projects across the country that were underwritten with funding provided by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Although $650 million is a jaw-dropping number to most of us, it isn’t actually all that much in the context of federal funding. However, one side effect of the increasing federal emphasis on transparency and accountability is the public availability of the kind of award and project data used for the Post’s analysis. At a moment when the federal government can’t fulfill its debt obligations and budgets at every level are being hammered, $650 million – and moreover, what it appears to reflect – is likely to have more than a few jaws setting in anger.

But is that fair? Is there more to the picture than the blame placed and conclusions drawn in the Post’s coverage of the HUD-funded projects? Yesterday, a post on the National League of Cities’ blog came out swinging against the Post’s investigation and analysis, charging the paper with “cherry-picking … sensationalism” by ignoring the impact of the housing market collapse and noting that “HUD and local authorities have an 85% success rate at going into the poorest neighborhoods in the country and providing affordable housing.”

It’ll be interesting to see whether additional HUD defenders come out of the woodwork, and whether the Post issues any rebuttals to NLC’s accusations.

What do you think?

An interactive map accompanying the Washington Post’s HUD report is available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/hud/funding/

Descriptions of some of the specific stalled projects appear at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/hud/stalled-projects/

Profiles of some of those who have been impacted by the stuttering projects are listed at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/hud/victims/

A piece discussing related impacts in the District of Columbia is available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/sellers-score-district-loses-in-affordable-housing-deal/2011/03/14/AFPQ7P4G_story.html?hpid=z2

The Washington Post’s dedicated page for HUD-related coverage is at www.washingtonpost.com/HUD

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