The head of the Troubled Asset Relief Program recently called on the U.S. Treasury Department to reform its blight elimination program, claiming the program operates without the proper safeguards to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse. SIGTARP’s report indicated that Treasury’s 622 million dollar Hardest Hit Fund Blight Elimination Program does not require full and open competition for blight contracts and does not have a way to ensure that federal money is used only, quote, necessary and reasonable costs.
In response to the SIGTARP audit, Mark McArdle, deputy assistant secretary for financial stability at the Treasury, said HHF has helped eliminate nearly 9 thousand 300 blighted properties, thereby increasing neighborhood values almost immediately. McArdle also said that SIGTARP’s audit unfairly compares HHF to non-TARP programs, failing to take into account the unique nature of the HFF program.
For the most part, the largest U.S. bank holding companies suffered through a dismal first quarter, as the profits of nearly every one of them took a hit compared with the first quarter of 2015. In slightly more than a week, the mortgage industry will find out if the banks were able to bounce back in Q2, starting with the release of JPMorgan Chase’s second quarter earnings statement on the morning of Thursday, July 14.