Ethan Barton of the Daily Caller explores a federal government program that has consumed hundreds of millions of dollars for a nebulous purpose.

An obscure Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) program grants millions of dollars every year to only three eligible organizations, but a government official won’t say how the money actually combats poverty.

More than $429 million has been granted through Section 4 of the HUD Demonstration Act of 1993 to help local organizations – called community development corporations – combat poverty through “capacity building” – a vague phrase that essentially means building their size and expertise, according to a HUD document.

“Capacity building develops core skills that strengthen the ability of local community based organizations to implement HUD programs, raise capital for community development and affordable housing, coordinate on cross-programmatic place-based approaches and facilitate knowledge sharing,” the agency’s 2015 request for funding says.

The funds pass through one of three eligible groups, known as intermediaries, which then either redistribute Section 4 funds to local groups or provides them with direct assistance through trained staff. Those three groups defined by law are Enterprise Community Partners, Habitat for Humanity International and Local Initiatives Support Corporation.

According to HUD’s 2015 funding request, $20 million will “result in: approximately 5,000 housing units newly constructed renovated, or preserved; 600 training opportunities; and an estimate of more than $200 million in total development costs channeled to low-income communities in more than 250 communities nationwide.”

But HUD officials won’t say how indirectly backing local groups after funds pass through an intermediary will achieve those claims, and the intermediaries can still receive grant dollars without providing evidence of successful urban renewal.