|HUD No. 00-341|
|Further Information:||For Release|
|In the Washington, DC area: 202/708-0685||Thursday|
|Or contact your local HUD office||December 7, 2000|
HUD SECRETARY APPLAUDS NEW AFFORDABLE HOUSING LEGISLATION
WASHINGTON - Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo today applauded the passage of H.R. 5640, the American Homeownership and Economic Opportunity Act of 2000, noting the partnership between HUD and Congress in getting the measure passed.
The measure, which passed the House and Senate on a voice vote this week, includes incentives to increase homeownership and rental housing for seniors and other vulnerable groups, produce safer manufactured housing, and reduce regulatory barriers to affordable housing.
"At a time when our nation is experiencing
unparalleled economic success, we must make sure that no families are left
behind," Cuomo said. "Nearly 5.4 million families pay more than
half of their income to keep a roof over their heads, and thats too
many. We must expand the pool of affordable housing to low-income families,
minorities, seniors and individuals with disabilities."
"This legislation was possible because of ongoing cooperation between HUD and the Congress," said Cuomo, who directed Federal Housing Commissioner William Apgar to work closely with Congress over the last two years to provide input and guidance. "By working with Congress we were able to strike the right balance between protecting consumers interests and encouraging the development of safe and affordable housing."
Cuomo explained that the new law beefs up consumer protections for manufactured housing in response to HUD concerns. He also thanked Congress for adopting provisions proposed by HUD, such as improvements to HUDs senior housing programs, and for including provisions that build on recent HUD initiatives, such as adding a new down payment feature to HUDs innovative program that allows housing vouchers to be used for homeownership.
Cuomo noted, however, that the current bill does not authorize enough new affordable housing production, something sought by HUD and several members of Congress earlier in the year. "This measure is a great start, but there is still much to be done if we are to truly meet the needs of American families," Cuomo concluded.
The senior housing portions of the bill help implement and extend the Administrations $779 million Housing Security Plan for Older Americans, an initiative that provides a full range of housing options -- a continuum of care -- for more than 300,000 low-income seniors as their health care needs increase. The bill:
- improves HUDs reverse mortgage program, which allows older Americans to get needed funds for home modifications or services by borrowing against the value of their homes;
- grants flexibility HUD requested to leverage funding from the Section 202 elderly housing program with Low-Income Housing Tax Credits and other financing; and
- expands the reach of HUD-funded service coordinators from only the residents of HUD-subsidized properties to include low-income seniors in the surrounding communities, an improvement proposed by HUD.
The section of the bill related to manufactured housing represents a significant improvement over the original version proposed in the House of Representatives. HUD found that version lacked important consumer protections and placed too much control over manufacturing and safety standards in the hands of industry representatives. The revised version passed as part of this bill:
- establishes an inclusive, consensus committee with 21 members, 7 industry representatives, 7 consumer representatives and 7 general interest and public officials, to provide recommendations to HUD to update the manufactured housing construction and safety standards;
- provides technical help to consumer representatives on the consensus committee;
- requires HUD to set model, national installation standards, providing protection in those states which do not have their own installation standards; and
- allows States to adopt more stringent installation standards than those provided for in HUDs national installation instructions; and,
- requires HUD to establish a dispute resolution process to determine manufacturer or installer responsibility for defects arising in the first year after installation.