This week, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Alphonso Jackson will be leaving office under a cloud of ethics investigations. But less examined than his corruption was his inattention to the housing crisis. During Jackson’s tenure, “foreclosures for loans insured by HUD’s Federal Housing Administration (FHA) have risen and default rates have hit a record high.” The Washington Post reports:
In late 2006, as economists warned of an imminent housing market collapse, housing Secretary Alphonso Jackson repeatedly insisted that the mounting wave of mortgage failures was a short-term “correction.”
He pushed for legislation that would make it easier for federally backed lenders to make mortgage loans to risky borrowers who put less money down. He issued a rule that was criticized by law enforcement authorities because it could increase the difficulty of detecting and proving mortgage fraud. [...]
They contend that Jackson ignored warnings from within his agency, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, whose inspector general told Congress that some of the secretary’s efforts were “ill-advised policy” and likely to put more families at risk of losing their homes.
At the same time, Jackson “launched a new $7 million auditorium and cafeteria” at HUD’s headquarters and used taxpayer money to solicit an “emergency bid to obtain oil portraits of Jackson and four other HUD secretaries.” He also insisted upon a personal chef and security detail.