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HUD Archives: News Releases

HUD No. 99-223
Further Information:For Release
In the Washington, DC area: 202/708-0685Wednesday
Or contact your local HUD officeNovember 3, 1999


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    WASHINGTON - A new independent study by the professional services firm of Ernst & Young LLP found that the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Community Builders Program is drawing praise for its effectiveness from officials of governments, non-profit groups, housing authorities and others surveyed.

    The study, released today, found that people outside HUD interviewed by Ernst & Young about their dealings with the Community Builders believe that Community Builders are:

    • Providing increased customer service and responsiveness to community needs and requests.

    • Expanding outreach activities and serving new groups.

    • Building working partnerships to further HUD's mission.

    • Meeting HUD's strategic objectives.

    • Utilizing valuable private sector experience and skills to benefit the public sector.

    HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo, who created the Community Builder Program last year as part of his landmark HUD management reforms, said: "This new report adds to a mountain of evidence that shows Community Builders are valuable employees who are helping HUD do a better job serving people and places across our nation. Independent experts and people around the country helped by Community Builders agree that this is an outstanding program."

    The report said one person interviewed called the Community Builder Program "a novel and refreshing idea" and another person called it "the most significant and innovative model for delivering government programs in over 20 years."

    The report said: "Based on our (Ernst & Young's) understanding of the Program from the sampled case studies and interviews and assuming the recommendations in this report are implemented, we believe the Community Builder Program can prove to be a model of government management innovation and reinvention success."

    The report went on to say: "These (study) results along with our understanding of the program and considering the recommendations in this report, support our belief that the Community Builder program may serve as an innovative government model of improved customer service for government institutions at all levels."

    The Ernst & Young study is the latest in a series of positive evaluations by independent consultants of the Community Builder Program. The program has also drawn praise as an innovative success by Andersen Consulting, Public Strategies Group, Booz-Allen & Hamilton, and government reinvention expert David Osborne.

    HUD's approximately 800 Community Builders are located in the Department's 81 field offices around the country. Their mission is to help individuals, local governments, non-profit groups, businesses and others understand and benefit from HUD programs dealing with housing, economic development, job creation and training, community revitalization, and other areas.

    The Community Builders are generalists who are familiar with a wide range of HUD programs. They serve as the first point of contact and can cut through red tape to guide customers to HUD specialists who provide fast and effective service to create new opportunities for individuals and communities.

    Examples of the many accomplishments of Community Builders include: convening hundreds of community meetings to inform the public about housing discrimination and ways to fight it; providing training sessions to landlords to encourage them to make apartments available under the Section 8 rental assistance program; working with businesses to create job training programs for low-income people; helping expand HUD's Neighborhood Networks Program that provides computer training to residents of HUD-assisted housing to help them get jobs; completing hundreds of Community Profiles/Needs Assessments to help HUD target the most effective programs to meet needs of different neighborhoods; convening hundreds of meetings between faith-based and non-profit groups to mobilize people in neighborhoods to work together to help each other meet local needs; providing information to residents of HUD-subsidized housing about programs to help them move from welfare to work; helping public housing authorities improve operations and create job opportunities for residents; helping first-time homebuyers get mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration; helping senior citizens get reverse mortgages that enable them to borrow against the value of their homes so they can continue living at home; and many other actions.

    The creation of the Community Builders freed up the vast majority of HUD's more than 9,000 employees to serve as Public Trust Officers, whose responsibility is to make sure HUD funds are being properly spent by recipients and to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse in all HUD programs.

    Ernst & Young received reports from HUD of 718 projects completed by Community Builders around the country. The firm then selected 25 representative cases to study, and interviewed 51 officials from local governments, non-profit groups, public housing authorities and other HUD customers involved in the selected cases.

    The study found "92 percent of interviewees indicated that they were pleased with the Community Builders' performance" and found "88 percent of interviewees also indicated that they would call upon the Community Builder again."

    The study said those interviewed "indicated that Community Builders:

    • Very effectively brought private sector expertise to the public sector.

    • Have been proactive in identifying opportunities and areas of need within their communities.

    • Act as a single point of contact and make HUD seem much more accessible.

    • Are very knowledgeable about both HUD and non-HUD programs.

    • Effectively provide information on multiple HUD programs, eliminating the need for clients to separately contact numerous program areas.

    • Are professionally competent, well-respected members of their communities.

    • Represent a positive 'new face' for HUD.

    • Have improved their perceptions of HUD."

    "Based on the selected case studies and interviews, one of the most significant aspects of Community Builders' performance is their ability to bring people together to form partnerships," the report said. "The new partnerships fostered by Community Builders included many groups that had no prior relationship with HUD. These partnerships demonstrate that Community Builders are meeting one of their key goals - community outreach and liaison."

    The Ernst & Young report recommends that HUD use a new computer database now being used in a pilot project to continuously evaluate the Community Builder Program and to maintain a record of Community Builder activities. The report also recommends that HUD develop a questionnaire to determine how satisfied customers are with their dealings with Community Builders. In addition, the report says HUD "may wish to study other government agencies and businesses to review their methods for determining effectiveness of similar programs."



    Public Strategies Group and Booz-Allen & Hamilton, 1998: "Community Builders represent the first significant infusion of new talent at HUD in a decade and could be the prototype for a new type of public servant in the 21st century."

    Andersen Consulting, 1999: "In striking contrast to the image of a federal bureaucracy, HUD's staff is perceived by its customers as providing exemplary service, accurate information, and HUD staff also received high marks for timeliness of the information provided. The fact that HUD customers indicated high positive level of customer service is even more impressive because of the high disposition of government customers to negative bias (since, unlike private companies, HUD must regulate its customers.) … To increase the benefits of the improvement of service delivery, HUD would be well served to continue its efforts to promote and support the Community Builder initiative, provide more resources to develop more thorough customer coverage, and provide structured CB goals to achieve positive business results."

    Senator Max Baucus of Montana: "I am a firm believer in HUD's Community Builder Program…It is critical that rural areas share in the resources available to more populated cities and communities. The Community Builder Program takes an active role to incorporate HUD's programs into community building and economic development, but more importantly it also integrates other economic development agencies such as USDA-Rural Development, the Economic Development Administration…CDFI and more."

    Senator Pete Domenici of New Mexico: "…The Storefront staff of HUD Community Builders, experienced with housing programs, combined with dedicated efforts to this community, complements the philosophy of serving those most in need of housing assistance with programs that work, will be HUD's new legacy in New Mexico."

    Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts: "It has been my experience that the Community Builders Program has been an effective initiative by HUD because it invests in a single HUD employee the authority and expertise to advise district congressional offices and their constituent communities on a department-wide variety of programs and topics. Members of my district staff inform me that community builders have provided my office with effective assistance on a number of different occasions within the past year. I consider the CB program to be an effective, value adding initiative, and I fully support it."

    Congresswoman Corrine Brown of Florida: "The Community Builders initiative is exactly the kind of innovative thinking we need at HUD and exactly the way the federal government should be working as we move into the next century. The Community Builders Program has proven to be a great asset to the community."

    Congressman John Conyers Jr. of Michigan: "The Community Builders initiative is exactly the kind of innovative thinking we need at HUD and exactly the way the federal government should be working as we move into the next century."

    Congressman Bob Filner of California: "My District Director, Field Staff and Legislative Staff all have come to rely on Community Builders as they respond to constituent concerns about housing and community development projects. The Community Builders in San Diego are making the federal government relevant to people in their everyday lives. They have my full support."

    Mayor Willie Brown of San Francisco: "Over the past year, I have seen an increased level of partnership between HUD and the City and County. (The Community Builder Program) exemplifies the federal-San Francisco partnership at its best and most successful."

    Mayor Anthony Masiello of Buffalo, NY: "The Buffalo Community Builders have been there to transmit information, offer suggestions, and make vital assistance available to steer our initiatives. Literally every dealing we've had with HUD since the inception of the Community Builder program has improved because of the one-stop shopping we can now use in seeking information and assistance."

    Mayor Thomas Suozi of Glen Cove, NY: "This program has brought to our community much-needed technical field representatives with knowledge and experience in community planning and development. I have found their work to be invaluable, particularly in light of the fact that we are a small city with large plans and a limited budget."

    Mayor Kirk Watson of Austin, TX: "By developing the Community Builder and Public Trust Officer positions, which focus on community outreach and on compliance monitoring respectively, HUD has created a more efficient organizational structure. With staff collaborating in a more focused and defined manner, it makes for a more effective and responsive HUD. We have used this model in Austin to reorganize our own housing office."

    Mayor Bill Campbell of Atlanta: "We also applaud the vision and wisdom in the creation of the Community Builders Program and how it has made the Department more visible and assessable to the citizens of Atlanta. The Community Builders have enabled more people to take part in the decision making process at the local level."

    Mayor John T. Yunits Jr. of Brockton, MA: "I write to you today to express my deepest appreciation and strong support for the Community Builders program under HUD…we do not have the personnel capacity that other cities do…The Community Builders program has helped close the gap."

    Mayor Thomas M. Menino of Boston: "I am very pleased to see the degree to which Community Builders in the Boston HUD office have been involved with the City."

    Mayor David J. Fischer of St. Petersburg, FL: "Our Community Builders are familiar with the area, understand local initiatives, and are available to provide assistance, support, and quick answers to difficult questions. The City staff is very supportive of the Community Builders program because of the convenience of a single contact."

    Mayor Tommy Swaim of Jacksonville, AR: "The Community Builders program is a new concept to those of us at the local government level. We have found the program and servicing community builders' staff to be a superb clearinghouse for a multitude of issues and information."

    Mayor John Norquist of Milwaukee: "2020's Community Builder program is a masterstroke and an empowerment tool for cities in its purest form."

    Mayor Charles Smithgall of Lancaster, PA: "The Community Builder program initiated by the Federal Department of HUD has added a new and valuable dimension to the relationship between local and federal governments. Lancaster and other local governments across the land face complex economic and social challenges. A growing corps of Community Builders across the country will be a powerful force for change, growth and self-empowerment for local governments and their constituents."

    Mayor Paul Schell of Seattle, WA: "The Community Builders have been instrumental in assuring that all potential applicants for SuperNOFA funding are informed and afforded guidance on how to apply. I have been informed by my staff that a key component of HUD, the Community Builder, is under attack…I certainly hope that you can add my voice to many others from Seattle about the worthiness of the program."

    Councilmember Christine Kehoe of San Diego: "I urge you to continue the Community Builders Program since it is a direct line approach to connecting resources with local needs."

    State Senate President Pro Tempore John Burton of California: "San Francisco Community Builders have provided invaluable assistance to my office with my proposed legislation to eradicate race restrictive covenants in the State of California."

    Councilmember Michael Nutter of Philadelphia: "The Community Builder concept is truly an innovation in government. I applaud HUD for the development and implementation of this program and I urge the Congress to continue to fully implement this unique initiative."

    Delegate Salima Siler Marriott of Maryland: "Your Community Builder team has made a decided contribution to the well-being and general welfare of the city I love - Baltimore."

    Councilmember Christine Kehoe of San Diego: "I urge you to continue the Community Builders Program since it is a direct line approach to connecting resources with local needs."

    President/CEO Yasmina Cadiz, Punctillo Interiors of Chicago: "I hope you will…do everything in your power to see that the Community Builders initiative continues. Their absence would be a significant and senseless loss to citizens like myself who would otherwise flounder alone and risk failure in our attempt to grow and benefit ourselves and our communities."

    Administrator Bonnie Contreras, Enterprise Community Program of San Diego: "They (Community Builders) have helped me, as well as others in my office - redevelopment, economic development, etc.- grant applications, getting to the right person at HUD and other federal agencies, providing timely information from HUD, setting up meetings, introducing us to relevant contact people, both locally and nationally, developing new initiatives and researching development or program issues such as regulatory issues."

    Chapter President Gary Moore, National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials of Texas: "These Community Builders' presence at Waco community projects have helped to promote partnerships between the Waco Housing Authority and the City of Waco. They ha++ve recommended that the Housing Authority be included in any meeting involving city housing issues and as a result, the City of Waco recognizes the Housing Authority as an important partner in the revitalization of our city."


    Content Archived: January 20, 2009

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