Rep. Jim Costa blasted U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan over his decision to close the Fresno Field Office, which would force Valley residents to drive nearly 200 miles for in-person assistance. In a letter, Costa called their decision to close the office misguided and ill-advised.
"This is another sucker punch to our Valley that is still struggling in the aftermath of the housing crisis," said Costa. "Few were hit harder than we were, and this is another sign that the Administration just doesn't get it. With this decision, they are foreclosing on families' last lifeline in their fight to keep their homes."
In Costa's letter, he urged the Administration to reevaluate their decision and consider possible alternatives as the burden was falling disproportionately on some parts of the state. Should the decision stand, California will have 3 field offices left in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Santa Ana.
Text of the letter can be found below:
April 24, 2013
The Honorable Shaun Donovan
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
451 Seventh Street, SW
Washington, D.C. 20410
Dear Secretary Donovan:
It has come to my attention that you have authorized the closure of several U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) field offices across the country, including the Fresno Field Office. While I understand the extraordinary funding situation your Department faces as a result of the sequester's misguided across-the-board cuts, your decision to shut down the Fresno office is a sucker punch to the San Joaquin Valley as we struggle to recover from the housing crisis.
Few communities in the United States were hit harder when the housing bubble burst than the San Joaquin Valley. As you saw during your recent visit to Fresno, thousands of Valley families lost their homes -- often a family's biggest investment -- and entire neighborhoods were economically decimated. Years after the housing crisis began, the foreclosure rate in California's 16th Congressional District is more than 40% higher than the state foreclosure rate. Valley homeowners, renters, real estate professionals, public housing and homeless advocates, and our local cities and towns depend on the Fresno Field Office for a multitude of services. From housing counseling to foreclosure prevention and assistance, the Fresno Field Office has been a lifeline for my constituents.
Your decision to shut down the Fresno, Sacramento, and San Diego Field Offices leaves only three field offices open in California: San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Santa Ana. In order to receive in-person assistance, my constituents will have to drive nearly 200 miles to the closest office. This is unacceptable. Furthermore, your decision to maintain service at two field offices in Southern California calls into question whether the burden of these closures will be fairly shared by the state. There must be another way.
Therefore, I request that you reverse this ill-advised decision and consider all possible alternatives that would maintain a field office in Fresno, the fifth most populous city and the largest inland city in the state. These alternatives include other ways of reducing spending within the account in order to more equitably share the burden of these cuts across the state and formally requesting a reprogramming of funds from Congressional appropriators. I look forward to a swift response detailing how HUD will take immediate steps to avoid the closure of the Fresno Field Office.
Member of Congress