Department of Housing and Urban Development

The Department of Housing and Urban Development intervenes in housing and community activities that should be the responsibility of local governments and the private sector. Its public housing subsidies, rental assistance, and housing finance activities have proven to be costly and damaging to the economy. The department’s poor management and misguided policies have led to fraud, corruption, and waste.

The department will spent $29 billion in 2016, or about $230 for every U.S. household. After adjusting for inflation, spending has declined 34 percent since 2000. The department employs 8,300 workers and operates 115 subsidy programs.

Department of Housing and Urban Development Spending in Billions of Constant 2017 Dollars
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  • HUD Scandals. The department has suffered many management failures, with corruption and cronyism a common occurrence in the executive suites.
  • Public Housing and Rental Subsidies. Public housing projects and federal vouchers for low-income renters have proven to be expensive failures.
  • Housing Finance and the 2008 Financial Crisis. Programs to subsidize home ownership have created large economic distortions and were an important cause of the recent financial crisis.
  • Community Development. These programs violate traditional federalism and spend money on properly local and private activities such as museums and parking lots.
Timeline of Government Growth
Cato Experts
"[The Department of] Housing and Urban Development has done an enormous amount of harm. My god, if you think of the way in which they have destroyed parts of cities under the rubric of eliminating slums . . . there have been many more dwelling units torn down in the name of public housing than have been built."

Milton Friedman, Interview, Hoover Institution, February 10, 1999

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