Showing posts with label HUD. Show all posts
Showing posts with label HUD. Show all posts

December 14, 2019

The Funds Approved As Disaster Relief for Puerto Rico are Being Held By HUD



                        HUD withholding billions Puerto Rico disaster aid







Thursday marked more than three months since HUD was supposed to begin the process of allowing Puerto Rico to apply for one of the withheld aid batches—about $10 billion—and 22 months since the funds were signed into law.

Jose Javier Santana holds a Puerto Rican flag he found on the ground after Hurricane Maria passed through on October 6, 2017, in Utuado, Puerto Rico. 
 
Rep. David Price (D-NC) accused HUD of "singling out Puerto Rico once again" with the second tranche of delayed money, which was on the brink of being delivered to Puerto Rico until the department in recent weeks suddenly chose not to approve the island nation's grant agreement. An aide for Price, who chairs an appropriations subcommittee that oversees HUD, said they've been notified by HUD that it signed the grant agreements for each state receiving the same tranche of funds—minus the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

Price said he's been offered no explanation by HUD as to why the grant agreements for the two U.S. territories were not signed, despite HUD giving their action plans the green light. The move has left him to wonder whether the White House may have played a role. The HUD officials who testified to Price in October said they would allow Puerto Rico to apply for the first tranche of illegally delayed aid "very soon" and claimed the decision to withhold it was based on HUD's overall concerns about corruption—not a directive from Secretary Ben Carson.

After the publication of this story, HUD provided the following statement, attributed to an unnamed department spokesman. The department noted that Puerto Rico has only spent a fraction of the funds they already have access to.

"The Administration has taken historic action to help the people of Puerto Rico recover from Hurricane Maria. Given the Puerto Rican government's history of financial mismanagement, corruption, and other abuses; we must ensure that any HUD assistance provided helps those on the island who need it the most. This process must be handled in a prudent manner with strong financial controls to mitigate the risk to Federal taxpayers. In addition, it is worth noting that Puerto Rico already has access to $1.5 billion and has so far only spent $5.8 million—less than one percent of those funds."

President Donald Trump (L), holds an African American History Month listening session attended by the nominee to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Ben Carson (R) and other officials in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on February 1, 2017, in Washington, D.C.

HUD did not address Newsweek's questions about who determined the two tranches of aid should be withheld or why Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands' grant agreements were not signed. The White House did not respond for comment.

"They're asking for it, wouldn't you say?" Price told Newsweek in an interview on the prospects of defunding a portion of the agency. He chairs the appropriations subcommittee responsible for overseeing HUD.

"What the legal options might be, we need to consider. But what we do know, appropriations bills do offer leverage," Price said. "The best approach is not to have this problem. But if you do have it, you write a deadline into the bill. If that's ignored, then you start thinking about more drastic moves, like withholding funds for something HUD wants."

In October, the HUD officials would only go so far as to say Puerto Rico could begin applying for the funds "very soon."

"The other day, I had a mayor call me and ask, 'could we sue the federal government for their inefficiency, bureaucracy, and ineffectiveness?'" Cruz claimed.

The corruption argument by HUD and Republicans is moot, Democrats like Price have said because Congress placed safeguards that require the money to be monitored by HUD as it's dispersed. HUD's Office of Inspector General also pledged to conduct audits as additional oversight.

"I think all of us who are scratching our heads over this are wondering whether maybe all this traces back to some kind of order from the top or desire to please the president. We just don't know," Price said.

Throughout his tenure, Trump has made false claims about the U.S. territory, such as inflating the amount of hurricane relief aid and refusing to acknowledge the high death toll of Hurricane Maria. He's also feuded with Puerto Rican leaders, like Cruz and ousted Governor Ricardo Roselló.

And Price and his Democratic colleagues aren't the only ones who are casting doubts on HUD's motives. 

"It's blatant racism," Cruz, San Juan's mayor, told Newsweek. "It's blatant discrimination."

She doesn't like the way HUD handles its disaster block grant program to begin with, much less when the department singles out Puerto Rico.

Cruz said she feels the entire system is designed to help big businesses and powerful people profit from the misfortunes of those whose communities were devastated by tragedy, rather than operate as a system that aims to weed out corruption. She said local governments are required to choose from a certain list of contractors or companies to complete the major projects that they outline in action plans for HUD, which are required in order to receive the federal grants.

"For anyone from the federal government to be talking about corruption with the most corrupt president of the United States sitting on a chair an inch away from being impeached," Cruz added, "it's really the pot calling the kettle black."

Prior arguments show that HUD contends that recent events are why, in part, they need to keep a close eye on such a large amount of money. The department maintains financial monitors on the island and has reiterated its concerns over Puerto Rico's recent political unrest with Roselló's ouster and a debt crisis that has for years handicapped the local government.

Cruz doesn't buy HUD's concerns, however, citing the safeguards that Congress put in place to have the aid routinely monitored for fraud or waste.

When aid is withheld from an island nation that's been devastated by hurricane after hurricane year after year, Cruz explained, those who don't live in Puerto Rico fail to realize the real-world effects that will have on local communities. And when HUD officials continue to offer few or no explanations, she feels it only hinders their preparation for the next Hurricane Maria.

"People die because of the federal government's and Trump's ineffectiveness," the mayor said. "People continue to die."

The graphic below, provided by Statista, shows that Puerto Rico is fourth worse affected globally in terms of fatalities caused by extreme weather.

April 27, 2018

Ben Carson Unveils Plan to Raise Rents to The Poorest of The Poor Not Yet Homeless



 Dr Ben Carson who beleives people in the projects are in luxury but $35k for a table paid for the same government is just something needed for the HUD office to make it look presentable since it represents people living in luxury.
'Well dear, What Could I remove from you today? I have $26 Millions but every bit helps, my beautiful wife always says'



Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson wants Americans living on housing assistance to put more of their income toward rent and he wants to give public housing authorities the ability to impose work requirements on tenants.
Under current law, most tenants who get federal housing assistance pay 30 percent of their adjusted income toward rent, and the government kicks in the rest up to a certain amount.
According to the HUD plan unveiled Wednesday, the amount many renters would pay jumps to 35 percent of gross income.
In some cases, rental payments for some of the neediest families would triple, rising from a minimum of $50 per month to a minimum of $150, according to HUD officials. Some 712,000 households would see their rents jump to $150 per month under the proposal, the officials said.
The rent reform overhaul requires congressional approval. If passed, the changes in how rent is calculated could impact many of the 4.7 million families HUD helps to access affordable housing.
The proposal is part of the Trump administration's push to attach work requirements to government safety net programs
Carson said the current way the department calculates a family's rental assistance is broken and outdated. Revamping rental policies would give property owners, housing authorities and residents a system that is "simpler, less invasive and more transparent."
"The way we calculate the level of assistance to our families is convoluted and creates perverse consequences, such as discouraging these families from earning more income and becoming self-sufficient," Carson told reporters on a conference call with reporters.
Tenants' rights advocates condemned the HUD proposal.
Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., who also chairs the Congressional Black Caucus, criticized the rent overhaul.
"Secretary Carson's immoral, ill-advised proposal is the latest example of the Trump administration's war on poor people," Richmond said in a statement.
"Thankfully this proposal would require Congressional approval before it can become law, and the Congressional Black Caucus will work with our colleagues in Congress to oppose it and other related measures," he said.
HUD officials said the proposal would not impact rents paid by those currently receiving federal subsidies who are 65 and older and those with disabilities, for the first six years. Officials say more than half of the families HUD serves are elderly and disabled.
Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition called the HUD proposal "troubling." She said seniors could still be impacted because the proposal also removes some income deductions that tenants could use to lower rents.
"The bill would actually increase rents for households that have high medical or child care expenses by eliminating income deductions for those costs. So the greatest burden of the rent increases would be felt seniors, people with disabilities and families with young kids," Yentel said.
The changes would first be applied to "work-able people," which officials estimate could be around 2.3 million households.
The proposal also calls for verifying the income of those who receive subsidies less often — every three years instead of annually. Officials said this would allow tenants to work and earn more without encountering an immediate increase in rent.
And the proposal allows public housing agencies or property owners who rent to those with subsidies to establish minimum work or job training requirements for individuals and families. Those 65 years or older and those with disabilities would be exempt from this change.
Earlier this month President Trump issued an executive order directing the secretaries of labor, commerce, HUD and five other departments to "do everything within [their] authority to empower individuals by providing opportunities for work, including by investing in Federal programs that are effective at moving people into the workforce and out of poverty."

March 7, 2018

Federal Agencies Including HUD (B.Carson) Are Sued for Quietly Altering their Stances on LGBT




 Sleepy Ben Carson only seemed sleepy because he was quiet awake while quietly changed  the
 LGBT Inlusions clauses for HUD. He has the same religious believes as Mike Pence. These so caled Christians think the way to heaven is to make the life of people they don't agre with, particularly the poor, miserable.

  
A progressive advocacy group filed a lawsuit in federal court last week against the Departments of Justice (DOJ) and Housing and Urban Development (HUD), calling for them to publicly disclose documents related to changing federal policy toward lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
"The agencies should be ordered to release all records relating to or consisting of decisions or directives to remove references to ‘lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning,’ ‘LGBT,’ or ‘LGBTQ’ individuals from agency materials concerning efforts to combat problems of homelessness, discrimination, and sex trafficking," the lawsuit, filed on Feb. 28 by the nonprofit People for the American Way, stated.
 The organization filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia after the agencies failed to comply with Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests that Right Wing Watch, a project of People for the American Way, sent in September.“There’s absolutely no reason why these agencies should refuse to release these documents,” Elliot Mincberg, a senior fellow at People for the American Way, said in a statement. “The public has a right to know what directives are being handed down that resulted in LGBTQ people being written out of federal programs and activities."
"These under-the-radar changes can have a massive effect on the way our government works, and it appears Trump administration officials are trying to create secret agency laws in order to push their extreme agenda," he added. "That’s simply not permissible. We have a right to see these documents, and we’re going to court to get them.”
On Sept. 20, Right Wing Watch sent a FOIA request to HUD seeking records related to three reported actions, according to the lawsuit: "the removal from HUD's website of materials that helped train homeless shelters on ensuring they provided equal access to transgender individuals"; "the cancellation of a survey of pilot programs designed to decrease LGBT homelessness" in Cincinnati and Houston; and "a directive to the Policy Development and Research division of HUD not to participate in a study of LGBT housing discrimination."
 Secretary Ben carson of Human Development and Research (part of HUD)


 Housing    


The FOIA requested followed a New York magazine articlepublished in August that outlined the reported actions above, and a July request by 28 senators asking HUD Secretary Ben Carson to do more to protect LGBTQ people from housing discrimination and expressing concern about the removal of references to LGBTQ people in its programming.
In the U.S., approximately 1.6 million youth experience homelessness each year, and an estimated 40 percent of these young people identify as LGBTQ, according to True Colors Fund, a nonprofit working to end LGBTQ youth homelessness. And a 2017 University of Chicago study found LGBTQ youth are 120 percent more likely than their straight and cisgender (non-transgender) counterparts to be homeless.
“For many young people … these [HUD] resources can sometimes make the difference between life and death — getting into a safe housing program or remaining in a vulnerable situation," Ellen Kahn, director of the Human Rights Campaign's Children, Youth and Families program, told NBC News.
Kahn said HUD's alleged removal of transgender-inclusive training materials for homeless shelter staff members allows service providers who are not interested in providing care for LGBTQ youth "off the hook."
“It gives people an opportunity to turn their back on this particularly vulnerable group of young people,” she said, adding that HUD's actions "essentially disappear a population that is disproportionately affected by homelessness.” 
On Sept. 15, five days prior to its HUD request, Right Wing Watch sent a FOIA request to the DOJ seeking access to any records relating to the removal of references to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth from a solicitation for grant proposals for the Mentoring for Child Victims of Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Domestic Sex Trafficking Initiative, which funds programs that serve juvenile victims of sex trafficking.
“In 2016, the grant application material had specific references LGBTQ youth, and sure enough, those references were gone in 2017,” Mincburg told NBC News. According the lawsuit, the DOJ has failed to respond to the FOIA requests despite repeated emails.
Mincburg stressed that changes in federal policy related to LGBTQ people and the removal of language that specifically mentions the community should raise red flags.
"They’re clearly sending a message that these programs are not going to be available for LGBTQ people," he said, adding that "the American people are entitled to transparency about what the U.S. government is doing.”
Mincburg claimed HUD and the DOJ are not the only federal agencies quietly altering their stances on LGBTQ inclusion. His organization, he noted, has also filed a FOIA request with the Department of Health and Human Services.
A spokesperson for HUD told NBC News the department does not discuss pending litigation, and DOJ spokesperson Devin O’Malley declined to comment.

February 9, 2018

Secretary of HUD Ben Carson* What Has He Been Up to Besides Taking Apocalypse

Since Trump wanted to pay him back (Ben Carson), since that is the way 'The Geius' works. Not by your background to do the job but what favors have you done (money or otherwise) for Trump. Cason Needed to be paid back because he stopped his campaign to be President and backed Trump. Trump was not going to appoint him to something He (Trump) saw as sensitive like Secretary of State but instead something the Donald did not care about like Urban Develpment. The last time Trump was heavily involved in Urban Develpment he would not put Blacks in his apartment in Manhattan but would send them to Brooklyn instead. So Sleepy Ben Carson would be just perfect. Under Trump's view he has become just that perfect and never rocks the boat. He talks about soemthing that Trump's followers  hope they misss, which turns out a plus somewhere in that 35% of his supporters. They are conservative Christians which beleive Christ will come back any second and the rest will go thru the Apolcalypse. Adam🦊
*Early in his tenure, Carson made headlines for suggesting that one public housing complex might be too comfortable and for getting stuck in an elevator while touring another. Then he went so quiet you’d be forgiven for thinking he never made it out*
 Think Big! But don't let people see you in case yu stop thinking at all or fall sleep


It was Christmastime in Washington, and Ben Carson couldn’t stop talking about the apocalypse.
“Did you know,” the secretary of housing and urban development asked his acting chief of staff, Deana Bass, at a Capitol Hill holiday party, “that if North Korea detonated a nuclear weapon into our exosphere, it could take out our entire electrical grid?”
Bass shook her head.
“What’s that movie where there’s complete lawlessness and anarchy for one night a year?” Carson said, calmly resting his right hand over his left. “ ‘The Purge’! It will be like ‘The Purge’ all the time.”
Carson is an acclaimed neurosurgeon who oversees a large government agency for which he has no particular qualifications and in this way represents the grand theme of the Trump administration. He, like the president, came to power by promising that an outsider would have the “common sense” it takes to cure what ails us. And so, while conservative gadfly Armstrong Williams played host to this party at the Monocle restaurant, it was Carson everyone came to see.
“There’s never been a time in the history of the world where a society became divided like this and did well,” Carson said as a crowd — including an off-duty New York Times reporter, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser, a slew of representatives from housing nonprofit organizations and old friends from his presidential campaign — circled him. “And we don’t really have a reason to be fighting each other. There was a movie some years ago, a Will Smith movie called ‘Independence Day’ . . .”
With his soothing, story-time cadences and heavy-lidded gaze, Carson proceeded to hold forth on how Earth’s near-annihilation laid bare the superficiality of all the world’s strife. If only, he argued, people realized that the fate of humanity hung in the balance, then Palestinians and Jews, or even the United States and Russia, could be “like best friends.”
Carson has been telling stories about a dystopian future ever since he got into politics. In 2014 he warned audiences that if Republicans didn’t win back the Senate, there might not even be an election in 2016. And when there was an election in 2016, Carson ran for president with a simple message: Democrats and career politicians were taking the country on a dark path.
In his new role, Carson still sees himself as a warrior against impending doom, but he’s battling contradictions on the side. He wants to be a good steward for an agency he calls the “philanthropic” arm of the government, even if he doesn’t think of the government as a philanthropy. He wants to clean up the swamp but finds himself swimming in ethically murky water. 

Carson is a man torn by differing impulses. And nearly a year into the job, it’s unclear whether he’s fighting the chaos or helping create it. The president-elect felt otherwise. Trump met with Carson multiple times and even called his wife, Candy, so insistent on bringing him on board that Carson’s friends joked he should ask for the secretary of state position.
The initial reports stated that Carson picked HUD because he had grown up in public housing. In fact, he had grown up only “near” public housing. It’s a significant distinction. When Carson thinks back to the families he knew who relied on government assistance, he doesn’t think of them as saved by a social safety net, but as captives.  

“The people who put all these programs in place meant well,” he said. “They had no intention of entrapping people and making them dependent.”
By accepting the nomination, Carson — who by his telling grew up poor but became a world-famous surgeon and best-selling author through sheer determination (and, yes, the help of food stamps) — set out to run an agency designed specifically to help bootstrap-yanking.
For a man who preaches his life story as a parable for self-reliance, it’s an odd fit. The agency oversees more than 1.2 million public housing units, helps subsidize mortgages and fights segregation in the housing market. Carson might not have known the extent of what HUD did when he accepted the nomination. But any initial worry about his ability to do the job disappeared quickly.
“Compared to pediatric surgery,” Carson said of his new job, “it’s nothing.”
It’s also, he quickly found, nothing like pediatric surgery.

Carson tours a residential unit at Hope Center, a facility for homeless people in Lexington, Ky. (Philip Scott Andrews/For The Washington Post)
Early in his tenure, Carson made headlines for suggesting that one public housing complex might be too comfortable and for getting stuck in an elevator while touring another. Then he went so quiet you’d be forgiven for thinking he never made it out. 

This was a different kind of role for Carson, who has been in-your-face famous for years. (Before becoming a Fox News contributor and later a presidential candidate, Carson was played by Cuba Gooding Jr. in one movie and played himself in another, a Farrelly brothers comedy about conjoined twins.)
Carson’s low profile was a relief for HUD employees. The alternative, as showcased by a few other Cabinet secretaries, seemed to be overexposure by way of dubious usage of private jets, undisclosed conflicts of interest and photos in front of sheets of paper currency.
Yet certain rumblings began early on when employees and journalists noticed that he was frequently bringing his wife and son, Ben Jr., to the office.
“At one point, Candy seemed to be coming in every day,” said a former HUD employee. “There’s this glass door on the 10th floor, where the secretary’s office is. It used to be they would keep it open, but they started keeping it closed. The family would go in and then freeze everyone else out.”
Was Carson relying on family members for advice over professionals? Or was Ben Jr., who owns an investment firm that specializes in infrastructure, wielding interest over decisions that might benefit his company?
“That is such crap,” said Carson in a recent interview from his office. “There’s nothing to find. It’s ridiculous.”
Part of why Carson might have wanted to surround himself with family: He was otherwise mostly alone. It took months for Congress to approve much of his team, and many Trump officials came into their jobs suspicious of civil servants and Obama administration holdovers. It was, by Carson’s own account, a “difficult time.”
Carson’s reliance on his family, however, risked running afoul of federal ethics rules. A story last week in The Washington Post reported that top HUD lawyers repeatedly warned the secretary against allowing his relatives to put people with whom they might have current or future business ties on the guest list for events. He ignored those warnings.
In one case, Carson’s son invited an administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to an event in Baltimore; three months later CMS awarded a $485,000 contract to his wife’s company.
Carson has ordered an internal investigation into the matter and maintains that his son “dots every ‘i’ and crosses every ‘t’ to make sure he stays 10 feet away from anything I’m doing.” But these days, both Jr. and Candy are staying even farther than that from the HUD building.
“In the beginning you don’t always know the rules of engagement,” said Williams. “It’s a learning curve for everybody. They realized that just the presence of being there brings scrutiny.” 
As HUD secretary, Carson preaches the same conservative strain of self-reliance that he sprinkled throughout his 1990 memoir, “Gifted Hands,” only now he’s trying to apply it to a government agency. He’s got the same God complex that many surgeons have (Carson owns a painting of himself hanging out with Jesus), even as a humble public servant. And he still smiles at his ability to set off the “PC police” — past run-ins include the times he seemed to compare health care to slavery and homosexuality to pedophilia — only now he tries to keep his opinions to himself.
“I have to admit, it felt good when you would say something inflammatory and everybody would go, ‘Yeah!’ ” said Carson. “But what good does that do?”
It’s a message he’s tried to relay to Trump. After Trump refused to condemn racists at a Charlottesville protest, and after reports that the president had referred to African and Latin American nations as “shithole countries,” Carson made public statements about how such language wasn’t “helpful.”
But Carson hasn’t been able, either publicly or privately, to persuade Trump to tone it down. He talks to the president on a weekly basis, but it’s unclear whether he can get him to listen. He hasn’t been able, for example, to keep the president from trying to shrink HUD.
“I wasn’t happy,” Carson said when the Office of Management and Budget suggested a $6 billion cut at the $46 billion agency. “I’ve made many trips back and forth to OMB to talk about it. . . . There’s still some differences of opinion there.”
Presidential candidate Carson might have felt differently, but a funny thing happens to a person’s thoughts on slashing government spending when suddenly part of that government is under his control.
“The thing that looms largest is making sure the budget to the most feeble among us is not cut,” said Williams. “If they cut that budget from 10 to 18 percent, I don’t think he’ll stay there.”
That sentiment might come as a surprise to many of the people working inside HUD, a massive brutalist building in L’Enfant Plaza, where Carson has kept a quiet presence. Many employees say they rarely see the secretary, and when he does address groups of more than 10 people, he requires a microphone because of his soft voice.
“There is no real agenda, and it’s certainly out of the ordinary even for a Republican administration,” said Gustavo Velasquez, an Urban Institute fellow who served for nearly three years as assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity in the Obama administration. “Many offices have been decimated. It’s preposterous.”
This is a continued deterioration of HUD, which during the Reagan administration had more than 16,000 employees but by the end of the Obama years had about 8,000. Meanwhile, last year, for the first time since 2010, homelessness levels ticked up nationwide.
Still, many HUD employees have quietly admitted that they feel almost lucky. While other Cabinet-level appointees have the will and knowledge to unravel the administrative state — Scott Pruitt at the Environmental Protection Agency or Ryan Zinke at Interior — it’s unclear if Carson really knows how to find the various self-destruct levers or if he’d even want to pull them.
“Basically, benign neglect is the best way to describe it right now,” said Julián Castro, the previous HUD secretary.
And recently, just as folks have been leaving the agency, Carson has finally been successful in filling out his team, including many longtime civil servants who have worked there before and a deputy secretary who by many accounts runs the day-to-day operation of the place.
“He’s learning that he does need the swamp,” says Williams. “It’s not always the answer to drain the swamp. Sometimes you need to feed it.”

“Benign neglect” is the assessment of previous HUD Secretary Julián Castro, of the agency under Carson, shown here touring an affordable housing nonprofit in Lexington, Ky. (Philip Scott Andrews/For The Washington Post)
‘Racism is like pornography,” Carson told about 20 HUD employees at a Kentucky field office, leaning on a lectern with a smirk curling his neatly trimmed mustache. “You know it when you see it.”
Weeks earlier, Carson decided to delay a measure to strengthen a civil-rights-era requirement for local governments to take active steps to undo racial segregation. When Carson was campaigning for president he pointed to this measure — crafted during the Obama administration to help the Fair Housing Act of 1968 live up to its mission — as an example of “social engineering.” Now, as HUD secretary, he said the rule should be paused because it was too burdensome on local governments. Plus, as he pointed out with his analogy, it shouldn’t take a bunch of bureaucrats to recognize racism (or nudie films, for that matter).
The move didn’t come as a surprise to anyone who was paying attention. The only surprise was that it took so long.
“People here are excited about him, but things haven’t really changed much down here,” said a Kentucky staffer after Carson’s visit. “We’re still mostly waiting on our marching orders.”
Without many specifics to ask him about, the first polite question posed to Carson during the Q&A: “Do you miss being a surgeon?” Later, Carson autographed copies of his books.
The trip to Kentucky gave some hints of the direction he hopes to take the department. He spoke with his staff about ramping up the rollback of regulations. He toured a number of public-private transitional homeless shelters — places that provide short-term tenants with job training and substance-abuse programs in hopes of putting them back on their feet.
“The goal,” he said, “shouldn’t be to increase the number of people on government assistance but to increase the number of people we get off of government assistance.”
 

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