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Cisneros reacts to Times inquiry, orders Indian housing probe
November 28, 1996
Seattle Times Staff
Anticipating the results of a Seattle Times investigation to be published Sunday, Housing Secretary Henry Cisneros is calling for a government probe of his department's Indian housing program.
"It has been brought to my attention that there have been allegations of various improprieties in the use of HUD funds by tribal governments and/or Indian housing authorities," Cisneros said in a memorandum to the inspector general for the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
". . . I am requesting your thorough review of these allegations and your recommendations for corrective actions, should any abuses be found."
A Times investigation found rampant problems in HUD's Indian program, which has distributed about $3 billion to tribal housing authorities in the past four years.
The Times will report those findings in a five-day series that begins Sunday. Cisneros learned details of the newspaper's investigation through Michael Janis, HUD's general deputy assistant secretary for public and Indian housing, who was interviewed by The Times Tuesday.
In that interview, Janis said: "The picture you are painting is one, frankly, of us being asleep at the switch nationwide. I don't deny you have found problems and issues. I will promise you that we will follow up on that."
Cisneros' memo went to Inspector General Susan Gaffney yesterday. In it, he said, "It is our responsibility to serve the housing needs of the American people, and we will continue to do so with no tolerance for abuse of taxpayer funds."
Last week, Cisneros announced his intention to leave HUD's top position, saying he needed to find a better-paying job. Seattle Mayor Norm Rice is among those under consideration by President Clinton for the $148,400-a-year position.
Copyright © 1996 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.
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