Even by Washington standards, $26 billion is a lot of money.
That’s the amount spent by taxpayers annually to provide housing
for needy Americans. But there’s significant evidence that some of the
monies have been poorly spent for years.
A joint investigation by ABC News and the Center for Public Integrity found that the Department of Housing and Urban Development
has struggled to combat theft, corruption, and mismanagement in the
more than 3,000 public housing agencies nationwide it funds, and
particularly inside the 172 that HUD considers the most troubled.
The problems are widespread, from an executive in New Orleans
convicted of embezzling more than $900,000 in housing money around the
time he bought a lavish Florida mansion to federal funds wrongly being
spent to provide housing for sex offenders or to pay vouchers to
residents long since dead.
Despite red flags from its own internal watchdog, HUD has continued
to plow fresh federal dollars into these troubled agencies, including
$218 million in stimulus funds since 2009, the joint investigation
… investigations last summer uncovered allegations that the
then-Philadelphia Housing Authority’s executive director had spent
lavishly on parties that included belly dancers, and had used more than
$500,000 in housing authority funds to secretly settle claims accusing
him of inappropriate sexual advances with female employees.
The same month as one of the alleged belly dancer parties, 12-year
old Ebony Gage suffered a near fatal asthma attack that occurred after
her mother says poorly trained Philadelphia housing authority inspectors
failed to properly inspect her home for dangerous mold.
… Lawmakers like Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, wonder how such problems could go undetected for years by HUD.
“We expect that the agency in Washington, D.C. ought to be making
sure that every taxpayer dollar is spent in a responsible way. And it
seems to me that we have not had that proper oversight,” Grassley said.
How can these problems go undetected? Easy — and for the same reason that a modern-day Josef Mengle could run a putrid prenatal death camp right under the noses of health and welfare authorities in Philadelphia.
To paraphrase Rush Limbaugh, entitlements now come with their own set of civil rights. Because HUD programs provide housing assistance to a significant number of minorities, particularly in large cities, they cannot be questioned or publicly disparaged in any way. Doing so would be tantamount to raaaaaacism! or bigotry and may have the unpleasant effect of temporarily reducing the amount of funding that HUD disperses in low income housing assistance which cannot be allowed to happen, ever, under any circumstances.
Republicans are currently busy looking for serious ways to cut Federal spending. Investigating the numerous and continually ongoing claims of waste and fraud in Federal entitlement programs would be a good place to start, as would trimming the massive, bloated bureaucracy in place to manage those programs. Democrats have never been able to do this, perhaps because doing so would force them to admit that these programs often keep people mired in poverty rather than helping to alleviate it.