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Lettris is a curious tetris-clone game where all the bricks have the same square shape but different content. Each square carries a letter. To make squares disappear and save space for other squares you have to assemble English words (left, right, up, down) from the falling squares.
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Department of Housing and Urban Development
|Seal of the Department of Housing and Urban Development|
|Formed||September 9, 1965|
|Preceding agency||Housing and Home Finance Agency|
|Jurisdiction||Federal government of the United States|
|Headquarters||Robert C. Weaver Federal Building, 451 7th Street SW, Washington, D.C.
|Annual budget||$43.7 bil. (2010)|
|Agency executives||Shaun Donovan, Secretary
Maurice Jones, Deputy Secretary
Estelle Richman, Senior Advisor to the Deputy Secretary
|Child agency||Click here|
The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, also known as HUD, is a Cabinet department in the Executive branch of the United States federal government. Although its beginnings were in the House and Home Financing Agency, it was founded as a Cabinet department in 1965, as part of the "Great Society" program of President Lyndon Johnson, to develop and execute policies on housing and metropolises.
The department was established on September 9, 1965, when Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Department of Housing and Urban Development Act into law. It stipulated that the department was to be created no later than November 8, sixty days following the date of enactment. The actual implementation was postponed until January 13, 1966, following the completion of a special study group report on the federal role in solving urban problems.
HUD is administered by the United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Shaun Donovan, a former New York City housing commissioner and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, is the current Secretary, having been confirmed by the United States Senate unanimously on January 22, 2009. Its headquarters is located in the Robert C. Weaver Federal Building. Some important milestones for HUD's development include:
HUD’s mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes: utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination; and transform the way HUD does business.
HUD has experimented with Enterprise Zones granting economic incentives to economically depressed urban areas, but this function has largely been taken over by states.
The major program offices are:
The United States Congress enacted the Inspector General Act of 1978 to ensure integrity and efficiency in government. The Inspector General is appointed by the President and subject to Senate confirmation.
The Inspector General is responsible for conducting and supervising audits, investigations, and inspections relating to the programs and operations of HUD. The OIG is to examine, evaluate and, where necessary, critique these operations and activities, recommending ways for the Department to carry out its responsibilities in the most effective, efficient, and economical manner possible.
The mission of the Office of Inspector General (OIG) is to:
The OIG accomplishes its mission by conducting investigations pertinent to its activities; by keeping Congress, the Secretary, and the public fully informed of its activities, and by working with staff (in this case of the HUD) in achieving success of its objectives and goals. Right now, the post of Inspector General of the HUD is vacant. Michael P. Stevens is the acting Inspector General.
The 203(k) program offers low down payment loans to primary resident owner occupants or nonprofit groups to buy and renovate a house. A scandal with the program arose in the 1990s in which at least 700 houses were sold for profit by real estate speculators taking the loans; at least 19 were arrested, and the situation devastated the housing market in Brooklyn and Harlem and resulted in $70 million in HUD loans going into default. Critics said that HUD's lax oversight of their program allowed the fraud to occur. In 1997, the HUD Inspector General had issued a report saying: "The program design encourages risky property deals, land sale and refinance schemes, overstated property appraisals, and phony or excessive fees."
One of the most successful HUD programs over the years has been the Multifamily Housing Service Coordinator Program. Each year since 1992, HUD has included in its Notice of Fund Availability (NOFA), a specific allocation of dollars to allow sponsors and owners of HUD multifamily housing for the elderly the opportunity to hire a Service Coordinator. The Service Coordinator provides case management and coordinative services to elderly residents, particularly to those who are "frail" and "at-risk" allowing them to remain in their current residence. As a result, thousands of senior citizens throughout the United States have been given the opportunity to continue to live independently instead of in an institutional facility such as a nursing home. Professional organizations such as the American Association of Service Coordinators provide support to HUD Service Coordinator through education, training, networking and advocacy.
Due to HUD's lending practices, it occasionally takes possession of a home when a lender it insures forecloses. Such properties are then generally sold off to the highest bidder through the HUD auction process. Buyers of HUD homes as their primary residences who make a full-price offer to HUD using FHA-insured mortgage financing receive seller concessions from HUD enabling them to use only a $100 down payment.
In June 1993, HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros admitted that, "HUD has in many cases exacerbated the declining quality of life in America." In 1996, Vice President Al Gore, referring to public housing projects, declared that, "These crime-infested monuments to a failed policy are killing the neighborhoods around them." According to libertarian critic James Bovard, "The more aggressive HUD becomes, the fewer free speech rights Americans have. Many words and phrases are now effectively forbidden in real estate ads. ... Apparently, there are two separate versions of the Bill of Rights -- one for private citizens and the other for federal bureaucrats and politicians -- since the word 'balance' does not appear in copies that normal citizens have access to." This was Bovard's response to HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing Roberta Achtenberg who declared that "...HUD walks a tightrope between free speech and fair housing. We are ever mindful of the need to maintain the proper balance between these rights." In 2006, The Village Voice called HUD "New York City's worst landlord" and "the #1 worst in the United States." The criticism is based upon decrepit conditions of buildings and questionable eviction practices.