When it comes to the nearly $2 trillion COVID-19 relief package, Dems have included more of their favorited pet projects, programs, and causes than things to help administer vaccines, reopen schools, or produce new COVID-19 therapeutics. It’ll be interesting to see how much of those “funds” make it into the bank accounts of congressmen.
Included in the spending package, NeighborWorks America, a congressionally chartered nonprofit organization, will receive $100 million through 2025. The nonprofit acts as a Red Cross for homeowners and supports community development in the United States and Puerto Rico.
According to a 2005 report from Bloomberg, NeighborWorks America was untrustworthy to begin with. Executives awarded large jobs to insiders without bidding, signed off on a multi-million dollar tech deal with a single contractor, let top officials make sudden departures, have documents fudged, and produced many “sweetheart contracts” between management and labor representatives.
In 2009, the Congressional Budget Office released a report that suggested the NeighborWorks America nonprofit group was deemed unnecessary and should be eliminated. They estimated that by eliminating NeighborWorks America, they could save $183 million in 2010 and $925 million over five years. Read the full report here.
“One rationale for the option is that the federal government should not fund programs that primarily benefit local communities. A second rationale is that NeighborWorks America is unnecessary. It is a relatively minor source of funding for NeighborWorks Organizations; its grants in 2008 made up 22 percent of their government funding and 5.5 percent of their total funding,” the report reads.
The report also states that there are other federal programs – particularly those in the Housing & Urban Development – that rehabilitate low-income housing and promote homeownership and community development. The nonpartisan agency suggested if Congress wanted to continue funding mortgage and financial counseling services for people facing foreclosure, they can do so without channeling the money through NeighborWorks America.
NeighborWorks said they would take the funding “with the utmost seriousness” and that they are prepared to support the retention of housing for families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“If Congress determines that we are the appropriate stewards to support state housing agencies, counseling intermediaries, and local non-profits, as they endeavor to keep families from eviction, foreclosure, and homelessness, we are prepared to bring our knowledge and expertise to the table. Our record speaks for itself, as does our commitment to the families and communities we serve,” NeighborWorks said.
The group has received billions of dollars in government funding, leading GOP lawmakers to argue why they need additional funding unrelated to the pandemic. Steve Kelly, a spokesperson for Senate Banking Committee Republicans, said Congress has passed “five overwhelmingly-bipartisan COVID-19 relief bills” and that non of them earmarked funding for NeighborWorks as an organization that has anything to do with fighting COVID-19.
To Democrats, the COVID-19 relief bill isn’t even about COVID-19.