Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, has called on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to make public the salary data it collected from public housing authorities (PHAs) across the country.
According to Grassley, HUD only made aggregate information public in announcing its compensation cap proposal for PHA executives earlier this week. He notes that the federal government spends roughly $6 billion to $7 billion per year on programs operated by more than 3,000 PHAs, and he adds that recent news on excessive compensation for PHA executives in Atlanta and Rhode Island makes it unclear whether other PHA leaders are also receiving overly generous compensation.
‘Making only a handful of the information public is a missed opportunity,’ Grassley says. ‘We've seen several significant gold-plated compensation packages at housing authorities. The abuses have grown in the absence of oversight. My review has shown that the housing authorities that go off the rails count on a lack of transparency to do what they want. If salaries are public, there's a deterrent for abuse.’Â
In addition to seeking transparency of the existing salary data, Grassley says that he intends to look at HUD's compensation cap proposal for potential loopholes, noting that PHAs sometimes gives other perks – including vehicles, accrued vacation pay and rolling contracts – in addition to salaries and bonuses.
"The federal government needs to pay a lot more attention to what happens at local housing authorities," Grassley says. "Taxpayers are paying for safe, clean public housing for those in need. HUD has to make sure the services are delivered and that the taxpayers' money is spent as intended. Better transparency would be a good start."