Press Releases

Representatives of Greater Los Angeles Fighting to Halt Closure of LA’s HUD Multifamily Field Office

Waters, Becerra lead delegation calling on House to act

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Washington, DC, December 8, 2014 | comments

As Congress works to pass legislation that will continue funding federal agencies for next year, fourteen representatives of the Greater Los Angeles Area have called on House appropriators to use that process to halt the closure of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Multifamily field office in Los Angeles.

In a letter to House appropriators led by Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43), the Ranking Member of the Financial Services Committee, and Congressman Xavier Becerra (CA-34), Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, the lawmakers urge the inclusion of language that would prohibit HUD from using federal funds to relocate asset management staff as part of the controversial Multifamily Housing Transformation (MFT) initiative.

The provision was authored by Rep. Waters and successfully included in the House Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) funding bill. It would effectively prevent the closure of offices in Los Angeles and other areas of the country. The Senate included similar language in its THUD Committee Report. Lawmakers are urging that both the House provision as well as the Senate Committee Report language be included in a final funding bill.

“As representatives of Greater Los Angeles, we are keenly aware of the potential negative impacts of the MFT in our region,” the lawmakers wrote. “Los Angeles is one of the busiest Multifamily offices in the country. The Multifamily field office employees are a crucial resource for local tenants and property owners, providing walk-in assistance as well as quick, in-person responses in the case of emergencies. HUD’s plan to uproot the Los Angeles office raises serious questions about how HUD will continue to provide the same quality of services to the people of Los Angeles.”

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 MFT is designed to consolidate 54 field offices into just 12, relocate production and asset management staff, and restructure HUD’s Multifamily field offices nationwide.

The letter echoes concern that the MFT would adversely affect delivery of services by reducing staff’s ability to effectively respond to unique local concerns – and remain connected to community leaders. Staff would have less interaction with owners and managers, and responsive walk-in assistance would be eliminated for thousands of people who rely on Multifamily offices.

The lawmakers added, “While we fully support HUD’s goals of cost savings and efficiency in carrying out the MFT, the agency’s plan does not seem to acknowledge the critical importance and value of having staff who are living and working in the communities they are serving. There are significant differences among local housing markets, and an awareness of each region’s characteristics is essential to the work of the Multifamily Housing office. We believe that the MFT will adversely affect delivery of services by reducing staff’s ability to effectively respond to unique, local concerns and remain connected to community leaders.”

Text of the letter is below. A signed version can be found online.

December 5, 2014

The Honorable Harold Rogers                                                    The Honorable Nita Lowey
Chairman                                                                                         Ranking Member
House Committee on Appropriations                                         House Committee on Appropriations
H-305 Capitol 1016                                                                        Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515                                                               Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Tom Latham                                                       The Honorable Ed Pastor
Chairman                                                                                         Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Transportation,                                              Subcommittee on Transportation,
Housing and Urban Development                                              Housing and Urban Development
and Related Agencies                                                                   and Related Agencies
House Committee on Appropriations                                         House Committee on Appropriations
2358-A Rayburn House Office Building                                     1001 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515                                                                 Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Rogers, Ranking Member Lowey, Chairman Latham, and Ranking Member Pastor:

As you conference the House and Senate Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations bills, we respectfully request that you support the bipartisan, bicameral agreement that affirms that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) should not be allowed to move forward with its full Multifamily Transformation (MFT) initiative. We continue to have serious concerns about the plan, and its negative consequences.

In April of last year, HUD announced plans for a major restructuring of its Multifamily field offices that would include the relocation of the Los Angeles office. As you know, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees limited HUD to an amended plan, effectively requiring HUD to maintain asset management staff in all 54 field offices across the country. However, given that HUD included its full MFT plan in its FY 2015 budget, the Department will be authorized to move forward with the full plan in FY 2015 unless Congress takes further action. To this end, the House included language in the FY 2015 THUD appropriations bill that would continue to limit HUD to its amended plan; the Senate Committee Report accompanying the Senate FY 2015 THUD appropriations bill also included similar language. In light of this, we urge you to include both the House amendment language as well as the Senate Committee Report language in a final funding bill.

While we fully support HUD’s goals of cost savings and efficiency in carrying out the MFT, the agency’s plan does not seem to acknowledge the critical importance and value of having staff who are living and working in the communities they are serving. There are significant differences among local housing markets, and an awareness of each region’s characteristics is essential to the work of the Multifamily Housing office. We believe that the MFT will adversely affect delivery of services by reducing staff’s ability to effectively respond to unique, local concerns and remain connected to community leaders.

As representatives of Greater Los Angeles, we are keenly aware of the potential negative impacts of the MFT in our region. Los Angeles is one of the busiest Multifamily offices in the country. The Multifamily field offices employees are a crucial resource for local tenants and property owners, providing walk-in assistance as well as quick, in-person responses in the case of emergencies. HUD’s plan to uproot the Los Angeles office raises serious questions about how HUD will continue to provide the same quality of services to the people of Los Angeles.

The damaging effects of the MFT are already palpable as the first wave of the plan is being implemented. As attrition occurs, HUD is failing to backfill asset management positions in non-Hub locations. Even in the Los Angeles office where the MFT is not yet being implemented, several employees have already left and HUD does not seem to have any plans to backfill those vacancies. We are very concerned that as these valuable employees continue to leave, the institutional knowledge of HUD programs and the LA Multifamily portfolio will dwindle, causing the program to ultimately suffer. With our local housing market still struggling to recover, we cannot afford to undercut what little progress we have made with this radical overhaul of HUD’s infrastructure.

In light of these concerns, we strongly urge you to continue to hold HUD to its amended plan, which requires all Multifamily offices to remain open with asset management on site. Failure to do so would entail a drastic consolidation of HUD’s Multifamily field offices that will severely deplete the agency’s local presence in communities across the country. Further, we urge the Committee to clarify that HUD should be maintaining adequate asset management staffing levels in all field offices under the amended plan in response to anticipated attrition.

Thank you for your consideration in this matter.

Sincerely,

Reps. Maxine Waters (CA-43)
Xavier Becerra (CA-34)
Karen Bass (CA-37)
Judy Chu (CA-32)
Janice Hahn (CA-44)
Julia Brownley (CA-26)
Alan Lowenthal (CA-47)
Tony Cardenas (CA-29)
Linda Sánchez (CA-38)
Grace F. Napolitano (CA-32)
Adam Schiff (CA-28)
Brad Sherman (CA-30)
Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40)
Henry Waxman (CA-33)


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Tags: HUD



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