ORLANDO, Fla. – March 17, 2014 ¬– The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced Friday that it will proceed with plans to close its offices in Orlando and Tampa.
The closures are part of a cost-saving realignment that was initially announced last year and opposed by U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, a Jacksonville Democrat whose district extends into Orlando. She said Florida in particular needed a full staff of federal housing employees because the state had been hit so hard by the real estate downturn.
HUD offices in Miami and Jacksonville will remain open. Offices in those cities, and in Atlanta, will handle work from the Orlando region. No one from the agency was able to provide a date for the closing.
The 16 existing employees in the Tampa and Orlando offices have been offered buyouts, early retirement or relocation to other HUD offices. Employees in the Orlando office worked with housing counselors on Section 8 rental vouchers, senior-housing assistance and foreclosure guidance.
The office on Maguire Boulevard, near downtown Orlando, also handled a steady stream of walk-in traffic, phone calls and emails from residents, homeless persons, real estate agents and multifamily-home developers
“We have had to make some extremely tough decisions in this difficult fiscal environment, and this is one of them,” said Ed Jennings, an administrator for the agency. “Still, we know we can implement this realignment while continuing to meet the needs of the Tampa, Orlando and the Central Florida region. This decision will not impact the delivery of HUD programs to these communities.”
© 2014 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.), Mary Shanklin. Distributed by MCT Information Services