Fiscal Year 2003 Budget Message
from Secretary Martinez

Helping more Americans reach the dream of homeownership, ensuring affordable housing opportunities, strengthening and renewing our communities, and offering a compassionate hand to individuals in need - these are the principles that guide our work each day at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. President Bush and I are committed to building on the success we achieved in 2001 in helping more Americans become self-sufficient and at the same time preserving a safety net for those who are vulnerable. Our proposed $31.5 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2003 ensures that HUD's important work will continue uninterrupted and provide families across this great nation with new opportunities to achieve the American Dream of homeownership.

This country has emerged from a difficult year determined to overcome the dual pressures of war and a tough economy. Our national resolve has been challenged, but families in our cities, suburbs, and rural communities have responded by holding firm to the values and pursuits that define us as Americans - including the desire to own a home of one's own.

The housing market in 2001 was this nation's most vigorous ever, and we entered this new year with homeownership at a record annual high. This is something in which Americans can take tremendous pride. Encouraging homeownership helps to build stronger communities, strengthen families, and create stability for children. For these reasons, expanding the ranks of America's homeowners remains a primary focus at HUD - especially among minorities, who historically own homes at a rate much lower than the population as a whole. While we consider homeownership to be an important goal, we recognize that it is not an option for everyone; therefore, the FY 2003 budget preserves HUD's commitment to those Americans who depend upon affordable rental housing.

Several new or expanded initiatives proposed by the President will help hundreds of thousands of families come to know the joy and security of homeownership.

  • American Dream Downpayment Fund. HUD proposes to quadruple the American Dream Downpayment Fund by providing $200 million in FY 2003. The fund, contained within the HOME program, will set many first-time, low-income homebuyers - for whom obtaining upfront down payment and closing costs is the most significant obstacle to homeownership - on the path to owning their own home.

  • Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP). President Bush has pledged to triple funding for the SHOP program in FY 2003 to $65 million. SHOP benefits faith-based and other community organizations dedicated to turning low-income Americans into homeowners; expanding the program will support the construction of 3,800 homes, fueled in part by the "sweat equity" of qualified families.

  • Section 8 Homeownership. Funding is included within the FY 2003 budget that will help low-income families move into homeownership by allowing them to put up to a year's worth of their Section 8 rental voucher assistance toward a home downpayment.

  • Housing Counseling. Taking the mystery out of buying a home through housing counseling is an effective way to encourage Americans to step into homeownership. Housing counseling is an invaluable tool for not only prospective homebuyers, but for renters as well, and anyone struggling to keep their home amidst financial stress. The Administration is proposing to establish a separate housing counseling program, funded at $35 million - the highest ever for counseling. This new program will replace the $20 million set-aside within the HOME program.

President Bush and HUD have taken steps in the FY 2003 budget to expand the availability of affordable rental housing and ensure quality and options for residents. The budget includes $204 million in funding for approximately 34,000 additional housing vouchers. In addition, the budget provides $16.9 billion to renew all expiring Section 8 contracts, thereby protecting current residents.

Through our FY 2003 budget, HUD will strengthen its efforts to protect the nation's most vulnerable: those individuals and families who truly need government assistance. The FY 2003 budget focuses special attention on adults and children from low-income families, the elderly, those with physical and mental disabilities, victims of predatory lending practices, and families living in housing contaminated by lead-based paint.

Solving the challenge of homelessness demands more than simply moving individuals off the street and into shelters; it requires investing in permanent solutions that decrease the number of homeless men and women. The HUD budget doubles funding, to $1 million, for the Interagency Council on the Homeless, which was recently reactivated to better coordinate the work of the many Federal agencies that provide funding for homeless services.

Because so much of HUD's work is carried out by faith-based partners that do tremendous good on the grassroots level, HUD has been designated a lead agency in carrying out the President's Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. In 2003, HUD will comprehensively reform our rules and regulations to establish a level playing field for faith-based and community organizations that seek to partner with the Federal Government, but today find too many obstacles in their path.

The American people must also know that they can count on HUD to spend their tax dollars wisely. We have already made great strides in reaching this goal by: restructuring HUD management to streamline decision making and accountability; putting resources to work where they are needed most and imposing stricter controls; providing better oversight of local housing providers; enhancing efficiency; and committing ourselves and our partners to the highest ethical standards. Our FY 2003 budget ensures that this dedication to excellence continues.

While HUD faces great challenges in carrying out this ambitious agenda, the Department faces equal, or even greater, opportunities for success. And so we have chosen to be bold in our pursuits. The American Dream is not an unattainable ideal; with the help of HUD, it is a reality achieved every day in this country, often by families who thought that a home of their own remained out of reach. It is for them - and for every family to come - that we respectfully submit this budget to the Congress and commit ourselves to the dreams of an even better, more prosperous tomorrow.

Mel Martinez
February 4, 2002


Content Archived: June 15, 2010