Petition to save Tampa HUD office draws online support - WFLA News Channel 8

Petition to save Tampa HUD office draws online support

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TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development plans to begin closing its Tampa office next month.  Nearly 500 people who work with HUD or rely on its services have signed an online petition to ask the government to reconsider.

"For them to pull this office out now, doesn't make any sense," said petition creator Sylvia Alvarez.  "I think in DC they're not really thinking clearly. Florida needs more offices for HUD, not less."

Alvarez is the founder of the HUD-certified agency, Housing & Education Alliance. She helps counsel people facing foreclosure and families that need help buying homes.

"We've had so many single moms that have come to us for help because they've lost their jobs," said Alvarez. "HUD is always there. They're like that shining beacon of help."

Out of 80 department's field offices 16 are scheduled to close by next year. In an online statement, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan said the restructuring plan will help the department transition into the 21st Century.

"Make no mistake, we will have to make tough choices," Donovan said in his online statement. "We're making these decisions because they're in the best interest of our mission."

Orlando's HUD office is also on the chopping block. Floridians in need of HUD help will have to look for assistance on HUD's website. They can also call the regional offices in Jacksonville or Miami.

Alvarez is hoping her online petition draws attention from decision makers in DC before the closures in Tampa and Orlando begin.

"No doesn't always mean no. Sometimes it means maybe, that's the way I look at it," said Alvarez. "So until they close the doors and are out of here, I'm going to keep fighting and there's a lot of us that feel the same way."

HUD will save about $110 million over the next decade by closing the 16 offices.  All 120 affected employees were offered transfers, early retirement, or severance pay.

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