After the current downsizing is complete, every state will still have at least one field office, according to HUD. (File)
Nine hundred Housing and Urban Development Department employees may have to move or change jobs under a restructuring that will close 16 of 80 field offices by this fall.
“Nobody’s being laid off,” spokesman Jerry Brown said Thursday. All affected employees, about 10 percent of the workforce, are being offered jobs and will be eligible for moving assistance. They can also take advantage of early retirement or buyouts worth up to $25,000.
The restructuring, the department’s largest since the late 1990s, comes as its organizational model no longer works “from a financial and a service delivery point of view,” HUD Deputy Secretary Maurice Jones said in an overview of the planned changes.
In today’s budget environment, Jones said, “we’re at a point where we must make some extremely tough choices.” Over a decade, the restructuring is expected to save hundreds of millions of dollars through reduced lease costs and other economies, according to figures included in the outline. The restructuring is not related to fiscal 2013 budget cuts stemming from the sequester.
As part of the reorganization, HUD’s Office of Field Policy and Management will shutter the 16 offices in locales such as Lubbock, Texas; Fresno, Calif.; and Grand Rapids Mich. After the downsizing is complete, every state will still have at least one field office, according to HUD.
Starting this fall, the department also plans to consolidate staff in the multifamily housing program that provides mortgage insurance to HUD-approved lenders. Those employees are currently scattered in 50 offices around the country; by 2016, the department will reduce that number to 10.
The American Federation of Government Employees will begin bargaining over implementation once it receives formal notification of the plan, Eddie Eitches, president of the AFGE council that represents some 6,500 of HUD’s approximately 9,000 employees, said in an interview. For the staff in field offices that are closing, Eitches said, “we need to give those employees the maximum choice consistent with” HUD’s mission.