Dole vs. HUD

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WASHINGTON, D.C.: Casting about for a campaign theme, Bob Dole turned his attention to the troubled department of Housing and Urban Development. Speaking before the National Association of Realtors, Dole decried the HUD bureaucracy as a bully that imposes its will with threats, fine, and investigations. Dole called public housing projects "the last bastions of socialism," and said public housing projects should be shut down and the poor given housing vouchers. Not so fast, the White House shot back, noting that Congressional Republicans had ignored a HUD proposal suggesting just such a switch last year. Not only did Republicans dismiss HUD's suggestion that public housing be shifted into vouchers, said Housing Secretary Henry Cisneros, they eliminated new vouchers earlier this year for a small program already in operation. Dole's speech, said Cisneros, is "a blast out of the blue...another instance of lapsing coordination between the campaign policy and actual record of performance." Both are playing politics says, TIME's Anne Blackman. "Dole is just looking for headlines when he calls for total elimination of HUD because it can not be done overnight," says Blackman. In practical terms eliminating HUD would take years, since it would take years to fulfill obligations already made to private housing developers. "HUD is a general mess and its very easy to attack, but what Dole has not done is offer a way to provide housing for thousands of American poor people if he eliminates it," says Blackman. "You can not just give them all vouchers and expect that they will automatically find a better place to live."