HUD spends big bucks on worker relocations


Housing and Urban Development employees have generous relocation benefits, thanks to taxpayers.

Taxpayers have shelled out about $2.9 million to pay the relocation costs of 125 Housing and Urban Development workers since 2013, a Politico analysis found.

And that’s just a little more than half of what HUD set aside for relocation expenses for workers during that time frame.

Politico, via a Freedom of Information Act request, discovered the agency reserved $5.5 million for the relocation costs of its employees – including money for storage, airline tickets and even home sales’ offsets so transferring workers wouldn’t lose money on mortgages they held that were worth more than market values.

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The $2.9 million in 2013 figures out to about $23,000 in moving costs per person, Politico said.

“When the taxpayers look at this they see the dysfunction of the federal government in very stark relief,” said Leslie Paige, the vice president of policy for Citizens Against Government Waste, in Politico.

HUD Secretary Julian Castro is generally regarded as a rising Democratic Party star, and potential vice presidential running mate for presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton. He actually refused a $14,000 relocation subsidy by HUD for himself, calling it too generous.

“I said, ‘I don’t need that,’” Castro said to Politico at the time, in reference to HUD’s money offer to only “hold our stuff for one or two nights somewhere.”

Still, Republicans have been targeting HUD’s annual $50 billion budget for cuts, fueled in part by various taxpayer watchdog reports.

“When you look at some real estate expenses, you have to question how these are justified,” said Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, Politico reported. “In the constrained fiscal climate created by the budget caps, every agency must evaluate their spending decisions.”