Editorial: While HUD slept

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At the time we questioned whether Cuomo was trying to embarrass Mayor Giuliani in order to advance the senate campaign of his good friend Hillary Rodham Clinton. Now we learn that while Cuomo was taking the city to the woodshed, con artists were taking HUD to the cleaners in the New York metropolitan area - right under Andrew's nose.

According to published reports, fraudulent real estate speculators have been using illegally obtained loans to purchase properties and sell them at inflated prices. The practice is called "flipping" and it has made some people very rich.

In a news conference last week, Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau said nine people have been charged in a scheme that has resulted in mortgage defaults on hundreds of properties costing HUD more than $70 million. This is money that will no longer be available to help people realize the dream of buying a first home.

Don't imagine that this is a victimless crime. These unscrupulous speculators talked people into buying properties they couldn't afford at inflated prices. As they "flipped" properties, these entrepreneurs made as much as $60,000 on a single transaction. The new homeowner was left with an overpriced property badly in need of repair. They had no choice but to default and HUD picked up the tab.

Susan Gaffney, inspector general for HUD, blamed the fiasco on staffing reductions in the New York area that left the department unable to spot patterns of fraud in the program created to help families buy singe-family homes. Let's see if we have this right. Cuomo says New York City can't be trusted to monitor HUD funds and then he lets a handful of con artists rob the program blind while destroying the dreams of hundreds of families.

Nice work, Andrew.

Good will to men

With the arrival of the holiday season, we as a nation are bruised by one of the most divisive elections this country has ever experienced. America is split down the middle. Less than 8 percent of the nation's African Americans voted for the man who will be their next president.

Amidst the gloom there is reason for hope. President-elect George W. Bush has made good on his promise to nominate retired General Colin Powell to become the nation's first African-American secretary of state. In that position, this son of the South Bronx will represent America before the world. A black woman, Condoleeza Rice will be Bush's national adviser.

As the wounds heal, and heal they will, this is a good time to take stock of all the things that unite us in a borough that is a microcosm of the world. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or all three, the TimesLedger family wishes you and your family all the joys and blessings of this holiday season.

Posted 7:17 pm, October 10, 2011
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