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Jaime Herrera Beutler Authored Transparency Measure to Expose Lack of Accuracy in Data Used By HUD Passes House Committee

Lewis County towns lost access to community development grants because of HUD’s use of flawed data to measure income levels

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Washington, DC, May 24, 2016 | comments
Today, Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler’s transparency measure to expose the lack of accuracy in data used by The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) was passed by the U.S. House Appropriations Committee.
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Today, Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler’s transparency measure to expose the lack of accuracy in data used by The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) was passed by the U.S. House Appropriations Committee. Jaime’s legislative directive calls for HUD to publish the margin of error for the low-and-moderate income (LMI) data used to determine eligibility of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) grants for each town if it is 20% or greater. The next step for this provision, that is part of the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Appropriations bill, is a vote on the U.S. House Floor.

Towns in Lewis County lost access to community development grants because HUD was using data with a high margin of error to measure income levels and award those grants. This action follows Jaime’s letter the federal housing and development department, urging it to improve its plans to evaluate development grant eligibility for towns like Toledo, Pe Ell and Vader that have erroneously been qualified as “too affluent.”

“This whole process has been an example of big distant, indifferent bureaucracy that is working against small, rural, poor communities,” said Jaime. “We’ve been working for 2 years to show these communities qualify and we’ve got nothing but resistance. Now that HUD knows they have bad data, they should be fixing it but that hasn’t happened yet. This transparency provision will put a spotlight on the fact that HUDs data is grossly inaccurate. It’s not an instant fix to solve the issue, but will put pressure on HUD to fix it.” 

“Community Development Block Grant Funds have made a significant difference in the lives of the citizens of Toledo.  Projects to the water and sewer infrastructure, for safe drinking water and environmental concerns, could not have happened without this funding.  The community is largely made up from low to moderate income citizens despite what the HUD data collection has revealed.  The school district serves over 50% of its students free and reduced lunches and the Food Bank is serving approximately 300 families in the community.  I would like to thank Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Buetler for all of her efforts in rectifying how data is collected for the determination of HUD funding.” – Mayor Steve Dobosh, Toledo

“I am grateful for Jaime’s diligence on this issue.  It’s great to have someone working on behalf of low and moderate income communities. Small and rural areas don’t have ability to do infrastructure projects and we need continued access to this program.” –Mayor Lonnie Willey, Pe Ell

“The City of Vader has definitely been impacted by being removed from the Low to Moderate Income (LMI) status with HUD. We are in imminent need of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds for our Comprehensive Plan Update and our Wastewater Treatment Facility Upgrade. Incorrect LMI status reporting has made it virtually impossible for our little community of less than 700 people to fund these and other State mandated projects. Our community is grateful for Jaime’s commitment to correct this issue.” – Mayor Ken Smith, City of Vader

Background:
HUD calculates the  low-and-moderate income (LMI) data, used to determine Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) eligibility, based on a five year average of the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) data. The most recent five year average of ACS data, that includes four years of increased oversampling by Census, had  up to a 91.5% margin of error for small towns in Lewis County.  However, HUD does not currently make the margin of error for the agency’s LMI data public. The U.S. House Appropriations Committee expects HUD to make this data public within 90 days of enactment of this Act. 

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