Members of the House housing subcommittee yesterday accused the administration of double-dealing on housing for the elderly with its plans to cancel construction of about a quarter of the units approved by Congress in the late 1970s.
The panel plans to put language in its housing bill this year to force the administration to build all housing projects authorized by Congress in the future, a subcommittee staff aide said.
" . . . the administration may claim to support the elderly housing program, but its every action shows disregard for the intent of Congress, insensitivity to the realities of program operators, outright abuse of administrative discretion and a wholesale effort to reduce by administrative garrote the program level that the administration itself agreed to last year," subcommittee Chairman Henry Gonzalez (D-Tex.) charged in a statement.
The department of Housing and Urban Development first issued a notice to cancel about 6,546 units of elderly housing authorized between 1976 and 1979, but later reduced the number to 1,600.
Housing Secretary Samuel R. Pierce Jr., called to Capitol Hill by the subcommittee to explain the administration's actions, said at a hearing yesterday that the projects were being recaptured because they were funded at least three years ago but were never started.
The department decided to crack down, telling project sponsors that if they did not get started soon their projects would be canceled, Pierce told the panel.
After the threats went out, most of the projects got going, but the department anticipates that 1,600 units will not meet their new deadline and funds for them will be recaptured, the secretary said.
But Gonzalez said one reason some project starts are delayed is that many of the sponsors are nonprofit institutions that must learn as they develop the projects.
"One wonders whether the department is interested in getting things done, or more interested in dancing to the OMB tune, which is to kill everything possible," he said., "The real decisions, the real orders are coming from the commissar, Stockmanoff."