Chicago — Even by Washington standards, $26 billion is a lot of money.
That’s the amount spent by taxpayers annually to provide housing for needy Americans. But there’s significant evidence that some of the monies have been poorly spent for years.
A joint investigation by ABC News and the Center for Public Integrity found that the Department of Housing and Urban Development has struggled to combat theft, corruption, and mismanagement in the more than 3,000 public housing agencies nationwide it funds, and particularly inside the 172 that HUD considers the most troubled.
The problems are widespread, from an executive in New Orleans convicted of embezzling more than $900,000 in housing money around the time he bought a lavish Florida mansion to federal funds wrongly being spent to provide housing for sex offenders or to pay vouchers to residents long since dead.
Despite red flags from its own internal watchdog, HUD has continued to plow fresh federal dollars into these troubled agencies, including $218 million in stimulus funds since 2009, the joint investigation found.