Shaun Donovan, secretary for the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development
, said Monday the agency's 2012 budget will assist 5.5 million families, 86,000 more than last year.
In addition,the budget will double the number of new housing units, he said.
Donovan said this good news arrives in the midst of a tighter budgetary climate where "we've had to make difficult choices," including reductions in the funding of new housing units and projects.
He explained the budget also makes public housing authorities with excess reserves contribute $1 billion to help fully fund the Public Housing Operating Fund.
"As many of you know, we have seen operating reserves at housing authorities increase substantially over the last couple of years," Donovan said. "To be clear, our proposal would draw down excess reserves in a targeted way -- not at every housing authority. At the same time our budget proposal recognizes that we all have a responsibility to manage to our budgets, it makes a strong commitment to doing more of what works and to stop doing what doesn’t."
Donovan said his agency also is aware of the need to respond to negative situations that surface in the press.
"In Philadelphia, once HUD learned of allegations of impropriety at the housing authority, we took swift action to restore credibility and protect tenants," Donovan said. "We’ve acted quickly elsewhere as well – in communities like New Orleans, where David Gilmore has made great progress reforming HANO under very difficult circumstances."
Donovan added, "Transparency about how we spend and track taxpayer dollars is a top priority. Let me be very clear: we have zero tolerance for fraud, waste and abuse. HUD is focused on protecting taxpayer dollars and ensuring that public housing tenants are receiving the quality housing and services they need."
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