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Weekly Column: Holding HUD Accountable to Berrien County

Over the past few weeks, I have been pressing to get answers about conditions at Harbor Towers, a senior living community located in Benton Harbor.  On January 11th, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Marcia Fudge appeared before the House Financial Services Committee, where I am honored to serve as the Chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee. During the hearing, I asked Secretary Fudge specifically for an update on Harbor Towers.

While HUD does not directly own this property, they conduct oversight over the local public housing authority. For years, Harbor Towers has been the focus of concerning news reports detailing unacceptable conditions as well as issues regarding the safety of residents. I brought this to Secretary Fudge's attention and requested a briefing from her department as well as a plan of action to improve the quality of life for residents of Harbor Towers.

After receiving a list of steps HUD has taken to improve living conditions at Harbor Towers, I wanted to see the current state of Harbor Towers with my own eyes. On January 23rd, I toured the property with Benton Harbor Mayor Marcus Muhammad to verify and see if these updates had been made. In the interest of transparency, the Mayor and I agreed to invite members of the media to tour the property with us. During the tour I spoke with several residents who shared positive improvements as well as concerns about lingering issues at the property.

While I was able to verify that several of the items outlined by HUD had been improved, it was clear that more work needs to be done. For example, I was disappointed to see that only one of the two elevators in the eight-story building was operational. I will be following up with HUD regarding their plan to address unresolved issues to improve the quality of life for residents.

If you need assistance navigating a federal agency, please contact my office in Holland at (616) 251-6741 or in Portage at (269) 569-8595, and sign up for my newsletter, the Huizenga Huddle, at Huizenga.House.Gov.

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