HUD Announces Closure of Dozens of Field Offices under Reorganization
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) last week announced a major reorganization that will result in the closure of dozens of offices throughout the country. Targeting the Office of Multifamily Housing Programs and the Office of Field Policy and Management, the proposed reorganization will affect roughly 900 of the department’s 9,000 employees, or about 10 percent of the total workforce.
The reorganization will play out as follows: Over the next two and a half years the department will consolidate the 50 current Multifamily Housing Program offices nationwide into ten regional offices. These regional offices will report to five “hubs” located in Atlanta, Chicago, Fort Worth, New York, and San Francisco. At the Office of Field Policy and Management, 16 of the Office’s 80 locations nationwide are slated for closure or consolidation with other area offices.
“Whenever an agency conducts a reorganization, the first question must be ‘how does this impact our clients and our employees,’” said NFFE National President William R. Dougan. “How long should they travel to get to the nearest office? Should they take their children out of school and move to their new location? Will they have access to the same job or services at the new location? Changes like these are very disruptive and costly events for people and their families.”
Among the offices slated for closure are Tucson, AZ, Fresno, CA, Sacramento, CA, San Diego, CA and Flint, MI – all of which are represented by NFFE Locals 1450 and 1804. These employees work in critical areas such as affordable housing occupancy and development, and homeless/veterans issues. According to NFFE Local 1450 President Elizabeth McDargh, everyone from low income households (including seniors, disabled and Section 8 tenants) to the developers and landlords who create affordable housing options for them, will be affected by the change. Closures will result in upwards of three-hour commutes for workers and customers, making it hard for people to access these key services when they need them the most.
“Morale and productivity have taken a dive since this was announced last week,” said McDargh. “The issue is not so much on the transformation, but in how it was handled and how little transparency and information is truly available.”
According to an agency press release, most of the downsizing will take place over the next 2 ½ years, but the first 16 offices will be closed effective October 1st, 2013. HUD estimates the closures will save upwards of $65 million annually, a figure McDargh challenges since the department has provided little hard evidence to support its claims. Regardless, the true cost of the reorganization goes far beyond the topline estimate.
“This reorganization will make it more difficult for some of America’s most vulnerable populations to access basic housing services,” said Dougan. “Cutting costs on the backs of the poor is the wrong approach, and this reorganization deserves serious review.”
Employees should reach out to their political representatives, neighbors, family and friends, and ask that they support making HUD leaner and smarter, not top-heavy and ineffective.