The Trump administration is bringing back “fair and open competition” to the Department of Housing and Urban Development by reviving a competitive bidding process to award Section 8 housing, according to a released report in the Washington Examiner on Monday.
The move would overturn the Obama-era methodology of using a grant-style process that was opposed by administrators and ultimately the U.S. Supreme Court.
HUD is now in the process of changing back to the competitive procurement method, but an announcement from the department will be forthcoming, according to the report.
Proponents say the competitive bidding procurement process will increase efficiency in the program and save taxpayer money. Section 8 housing is a federal program that pays rental assistance to landlords to help low-income people acquire affordable housing.
“When dealing with performance-based Section 8 contract administrators, it’s clear that full and open competition is the way to get the best value for the taxpayer,” said Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) “As Chairman of the Housing Appropriations Subcommittee, I have repeatedly insisted both publicly and privately that HUD follow Congressional intent, the GAO, and the Supreme Court.”
Diaz-Balart is one of a small handful of elected officials who put pressure on HUD and then-Secretary Julián Castro during the years in which the housing agency ignored findings that their grant process was illegal.
HUD began to contract out the management of Section 8 housing units through a competitive bidding process in 1995. However, in March of 2012, HUD suddenly began using funding mechanisms which were more like grants.
In response to the change, contractors who had previously gained HUD’s business under the bidding process appealed to the Government Accountability Office. And in August of 2012, the GAO ruled that HUD’s actions were “unreasonable and in disregard of applicable statutory guidance.”
This decision did not deter HUD from continuing on that course, and then the lawsuits began, which HUD kept losing until the U.S. Supreme Court eventually denied to hear an appeal from the agency in April of 2015. Still, HUD kept doing what it was doing. But all that’s changed with Trump in the White House.
Eric Strong, CEO of Navigate Affordable Housing Partners, has won HUD Section 8 contracts in under the competitive system in the past and has publicly lobbied HUD to change back to the performance based contracting method.
“All we’ve ever wanted was fair and open competition because we know it results in the best financial situation for the taxpayer and also will result in better housing for the residents who live in those [Section 8] units,” said Strong.
Earlier in May, at least 14 reports were withheld by a government watchdog organization that revealed numerous problems allowing fraud and waste at the Department of Housing and Urban Development during the Obama administration.
According to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group (DCNF), “The reports concern issues plaguing the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), including felons illegally living in federally-funded homes, tax fraud and millions of dollars sitting in unused bank accounts for years. The department’s 2017 budget is $48.9 billion and it has 8,375 employees.”
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