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HUD No. 98-239
Further Information:For Release
In the Washington, DC area: 202/708-06851:00 PM Sunday
Or contact your local HUD officeJune 21, 1998


WASHINGTON - Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo said a new report issued today by Harvard University is the latest in a series of studies documenting the need for initiatives President Clinton has proposed to increase America's supply of affordable housing.

"Every housing study comes to the same conclusion: America needs to get back into the business of creating affordable housing, and we need to do it now," Cuomo said. "On this Father's Day, too many fathers and too many mothers are struggling desperately to keep a roof over their children's heads, trying to stretch low wages to cover high rents. They need more than studies of the housing crisis. They need action."

"President Clinton has presented Congress with a budget that will meet the housing needs of more hard-working families," Cuomo said. Initiatives the President has proposed in his 1999 federal budget to increase the supply of affordable housing include: $585 million for 103,000 new rental assistance vouchers, 50,000 of which would help welfare recipients get and keep jobs; a higher Federal Housing Administration home mortgage loan limit to enable more families to qualify for FHA-insured mortgages so they can become homeowners; $135 million for increased funding for homeless grants; $50 million for additional HOME program grants; $11 million for a new HOME bank to finance affordable housing; and a substantial expansion of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit to create as many as 180,000 units of new affordable rental housing over the next five years.

Congress has not funded new rental assistance vouchers for low-income families since 1994 - breaking a long bipartisan tradition of annual increases in housing subsidies.

The State of the Nation's Housing: 1998, which was issued today by Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies, says: "The strong economy has also done little to ease the chronic housing problems of millions of extremely low-income families, whose numbers remain at peak levels in the face of cutbacks in housing assistance and continuing losses from the affordable stock."

The Harvard report points out that although the nation's homeownership rate rose to the highest annual level in American history last year - 65.7 percent - "not all of the news is good. Low-income families still have difficulty saving enough to make the downpayment on a home. And although more minority households have bought homes over the past three years than ever before, their homeownership rates still seriously lag those of whites."

Harvard's report goes on to say that "even full-time workers earning the minimum wage are already hard-pressed to find suitable, affordable housing." It says that "addressing the severe housing problems of extremely low-income households remains perhaps the single largest, and most urgent, priority for policymakers as we move into the 21st century."

The Harvard report follows President Clinton's release Friday of the second annual State of the Cities report, which said: "The nation's affordable housing crisis has reached record levels, especially in central cities."

A HUD report in April found that a record 5.3 million households with very low incomes - including growing numbers of working poor and suburban as well as urban families - have a desperate need for housing assistance because they face a crisis of unaffordable rents and substandard living conditions. The 5.3 million households are made up of an estimated 12.5 million people - including 4.5 million children, nearly 1.5 million senior citizens and as many as 1.4 million adults with disabilities.

A June 15 report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities also said the shortage of low-rent housing in the United States reached a record high in 1995, and supported President Clinton's housing initiatives.

Content Archived: January 20, 2009

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