HUD No. 05-053
April 22, 2005
JACKSON HELPS HOUSTON SENIOR CITIZEN OPEN THE DOOR TO HER NEW HOME
HUD continues to challenge City to improve its stalled federal housing programs
HOUSTON - Earnestine Waddle finally has a new home thanks to the personal intervention of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson who traveled to Houston today to be part of a public open house for the 74-year-old widow. Waddle took possession of her new home today after a yearlong drama involving the City of Houston's troubled program designed to rehabilitate lower income housing.
"When I last visited this site on June 30th, I promised Earnestine that HUD would work with the City of Houston to get her back home as quickly as possible," said Jackson. "It took longer than we had hoped, but I'm delighted that today, Ms. Waddle has her house back. As the old song goes, 'It's so nice to have you back where you belong!'"
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee brought Waddle's case to Jackson's attention more than a year ago. After HUD's investigation, Jackson froze the city's HUD funded home repair program and $48 million in housing funds provided the Department's HOME Investment Partnerships Program. HUD discovered dozens of examples of the city failing to properly account for shoddy work performed by contractors on homes, like Waddle's. In the end, Waddle's home was demolished and she was relocated to an apartment at the city's expense.
Meanwhile, a recent independent audit conducted by Jefferson Wells International validated many of HUD's findings. HUD is waiting for the city to correct 25 separate deficiencies in its housing programs before it will allow Houston to access its funding. To assist the city, HUD is providing substantial guidance and technical assistance. Last March, approximately 60 employees in Houston's Department of Housing and Community Development took advantage of a three-day HUD workshop and HUD intends to provide ongoing and intensive assistance to bring the city's housing programs back into compliance.
Jackson said, "I believe the city is beginning to make meaningful progress toward correcting some of these longstanding problems. I want to assure every other person on the waiting list that they will get the repairs they've been promised. The next time I come to Houston, I'm expecting to see more results."
HUD is the nation's housing agency committed to increasing homeownership, particularly among minorities; creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans; and supporting the homeless, elderly, people with disabilities and people living with AIDS. The Department also promotes economic and community development as well as enforces the nation's fair housing laws. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet and espanol.hud.gov.