Abolishing HUD, Simplistic Solution to Complex Problems

A call to eliminate HUD will easily attract many right-wing politicos, and apparently others as well — and it is appealing.

That said, while all of us can point to various examples of incompetence, ineffeciency, and corruption at HUD, if the agency were to be abolished, there is no guarantee that the funds would be re-allocated to another agency or that any of the housing and community development issues the agency is supposed to be addressed, would in fact be. More likely the funds would support another tax cut.

HUD controls money, has law enforcement authority, and exercises influence with a range of public, private, and non-profit groups. Better to steer the agency in new directions than eliminate it. As Peter Dreier and others have suggested, the question is how to marshal the political power to in fact steer the agency in more progressive directions. Provocative calls for abolition can garner headlines. Putting a roof (on fair and equitable terms) over families’ heads is another matter.

Gregory D. Squires is a professor of sociology and public policy and public administration at George Washington University. He previously served on the board of the National Housing Institute, publisher of Shelterforce.


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