This Federal Agency Shrinks Office, Staff

Times Staff Writer

Much hoopla about expanding usually accompanies office relocations, but such was not the case last week when the Department of Housing and Urban Affairs moved its Los Angeles branch.

Instead of expanding, the L. A. office is cutting back.

"We're going from three floors to two floors," Fredrick K. Stillions, public affairs officer, said of the move from 2500 Wilshire Blvd. to 1615 W. Olympic Blvd.

"We lost half of our staff during the past five years, so we're taking less space." The staff dropped from 420 in 1980, to 200 now.

Budget cuts are partly responsible, he said, but there has also been a concerted effort to get the private sector to do a lot of the work that his department has been doing.

"We used to have a mortgage credit department, but now, instead

of us underwriting loans, we're letting private mortgage companies do it," he explained. "We used to have our own appraisers, but now we only have a couple on our staff, and most of the appraisers we use are on the outside."

Interestingly, since interest rates dropped to their current low level, his department has had so much business that it has had trouble finding enough appraisers to do the work.

Cutbacks are continuing, though, in paper work as well as personnel. "We're letting cities do more of the paperwork for block grants." In a word, he agreed, his office has been "streamlining."

"I'll think to myself, where else can we cut? And sure enough, somebody comes up with an idea," he said. "HUD is asking for ideas. One guy in our central office (in Washington) was paid $10,000 for an idea that saved the taxpayers $1 million a year."

And what of the employees who left his office? "Almost everybody left with a smile on their faces, because they're doing the same thing on the outside but for more money.

"So we're saving the taxpayers money and creating more jobs on the outside."

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