January 30, 2003
BUSH ADMINISTRATION'S TWO-YEAR RECORD AT HUD: HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE INCREASING MINORITY HOMEOWNERSHIP, PROVIDING MORE AFFORDABLE HOUSING FOR AMERICAN FAMILIES AND STRENGTHENING COMMUNITIES
Results and Accountability Becoming Hallmarks of HUD
WASHINGTON - Marking the two-year anniversary of his arrival at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Secretary Mel Martinez said today that HUD is making great progress in achieving the goals of President Bush's housing agenda and assisting families and individuals who have not fully shared in our nation's prosperity.
"HUD has become an agent of empowerment, compassion and opportunity for all Americans," Martinez said. "And though we haven't finished the job, I'm extremely proud of the great strides we have made in such a short time, partnering with local groups to help the needy achieve independence and live responsible, productive lives."
Martinez said there are four key elements to the President's housing agenda: increase homeownership for all Americans, especially among minorities; expand the availability of and improve people's access to affordable housing; strengthen U.S. communities, with a special focus on ending chronic homelessness; and correct the internal management problems that have plagued HUD for years. (Read the HUD Accomplishments Fact Sheet or the Full Details of HUD Accomplishments 2001-2002.)
Increase Homeownership. Under the direction of Martinez, the Department has taken on the challenge of increasing homeownership so that it becomes a viable option for every American who wants to own a home. HUD has put into place a number of new initiatives that have pushed homeownership rates for Americans to all-time highs and has introduced initiatives to simplify the homebuying process, combat predatory lending and increase minority homeownership. HUD has:
- Unveiled America's Homeownership Challenge, the Administration's centerpiece effort to close the homeownership gap between minority and non-minority Americans and create 5.5 million new minority homeowners by 2010.
- Proposed the $200 million American Dream Downpayment Initiative to help 40,000 low-income families annually make the move into homeownership over the next four years.
- Unveiled a major effort to reform the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act - RESPA, for short - aimed at making the homebuying process less expensive and less complicated for consumers.
- Permitted up to one year's worth of Section 8 rental vouchers to be applied toward a downpayment on a home, thereby empowering 550 low-income families to become homeowners.
- Provided FHA insurance for mortgages on nearly 1.3 million single-family homes, surpassing the goal of 1.1 million.
- Provided a record $329 billion in mortgage capital for the FHA, Veteran's Affairs (VA) and other housing programs.
- Stepped up efforts to combat predatory lending practices by targeting unscrupulous lenders, pooling the resources of the federal government and helping agencies work together to fight abusive lending practices.
- Announced that Ginnie Mae, a government-owned corporation within HUD, had reduced to 19 from 44 the minimum number of basis points that issuers of federally guaranteed mortgages must set aside for servicing, a move that will cut the cost of federally insured mortgages and increase homeownership rates.
- Provided $20 million in homebuyer education assistance so that future homebuyers could learn how to buy and keep a home.
- Boosted homeownership opportunities for police officers and teachers by improving management controls over HUD's Officer Next Door and Teacher Next Door home sales programs.
Promote Affordable Housing. Another major element of the President's housing agenda has been the Department's on-going commitment to increase the number of affordable housing units, both rental and owned housing units. During the last two years, HUD has taken steps to ensure that the nation's most vulnerable have the shelter and care they need.
- Proposed a single-family affordable housing tax credit that will provide developers with $1.7 billion for building an estimated 200,000 affordable new homes in distressed areas during the next five years.
- Made commitments for 201 new construction or substantially rehabilitated projects, with some 39,000 apartments totaling $2.8 billion in mortgage loans.
- Initiated a 25 percent increase in the per-unit limits for FHA multifamily mortgage insurance programs.
- Placed the FHA multifamily insurance program on a stable, break-even footing.
- Unveiled the web-based Regulatory Barriers Clearinghouse, which encourages builders and developers to share ideas for overcoming the regulatory barriers that block affordable housing production on the local level.
- Preserved affordable housing in New York City through an unprecedented $168 million partnership with the local government to rehabilitate more than 500 properties originally insured under HUD's 203(k) mortgage insurance program.
- Initiated reforms to improve the delivery of affordable housing units and to hold the Department, as well as past grantees and new applicants, accountable for project readiness and performance.
- Reformed the HOPE VI program to encourage accountability and project readiness to better revitalize severely distressed public housing properties.
- Reduced the Department's inventory of Real Estate Owned (REO) properties by almost 50 percent.
- Slashed from 85 to 29 the percentage of 30-day old fair housing complaints in its files and completed some 1,010 fair housing enforcement activities, 126 percent of the goal of 800.
- Expanded initiatives and partnerships aimed at increasing accessible housing opportunities for persons with disabilities by aggressively promoting design and construction requirements for accessibility in all multifamily housing, including apartment buildings, condominiums and cooperatives.
- Awarded a grant of nearly $900,000 to ensure that more apartments, condominiums and other housing units are accessible to people with disabilities.
Strengthen Communities. In addition to providing more safe and affordable housing for all Americans, the Department is also charged with strengthening communities through economic development. HUD is committed to empowering communities to flourish by encouraging local solutions to solve local problems. In fulfilling this element of the President's housing agenda, the Department has:
- Awarded $2.7 billion in CDBG funding to the Empire State Development Corporation and the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation to provide assistance for property and businesses damaged by, and economic revitalization related to, the September 11 terrorist attacks.
- Provided housing assistance to nearly 190,000 households, an increase of 8.7 percent above the 2001 level.
- Encouraged economic development and affordable housing through its Community Renewal Initiative. The 41 Renewal Communities and eight new Empowerment Zones will have access to $22 billion in tax relief to create jobs, grow businesses, promote renewal and build houses.
- Reactivated the Interagency Council on Homelessness to better coordinate the efforts of 18 federal agencies in addressing the needs of homeless persons and set in motion a plan to eliminate chronic homelessness by the end of the decade.
- Announced more than $1.1 billion in homeless assistance, the largest amount in history, to fund thousands of housing and service programs around the country.
- Announced the Colonias Gateway Initiative to develop affordable housing and infrastructure, and foster economic opportunity in the colonias.
- Approved 52 policy recommendations to enhance the management, coordination and delivery of HUD programs and services to improve the lives of residents in the Southwest Border Region, colonias and migrant/farmworker communities.
- Awarded nearly $95 million to protect children and families from health and safety hazards in the home, a $26 million increase since Martinez took office.
- Proposed the removal of unwarranted restrictions preventing the participation of faith-based organizations in HUD programs.
- Authorized approximately 3,100 local housing agencies to institute "an open-door policy" for faith-based organizations to provide social services to public housing residents.
Improve Management, Accountability and Ethics. Since taking over as HUD Secretary, Martinez has brought to the Department a new sense of ethics and a focus on streamlined management. In keeping with the President's management and performance agenda, Martinez is enhancing the organizational structure of HUD, strengthening its leadership, improving communication and coordination and empowering employees to better serve their constituencies. Among his accomplishments, the Secretary has:
- Initiated full implementation of the President's Management Agenda, which included assessing the Department's management environment, building a new management team, and formulating viable strategies and plans to address the major management challenges and program risks still facing HUD.
- Launched a new Management Plan process that has produced strong, integrated results and improved overall compliance, standards and efficiencies.
- Expanded ethics training and review processes, while increasing ethics enforcement activities.
- Completed a Resource Estimation and Allocation Process baseline for estimating resource requirements and prioritizing staffing allocations by program and office.
- Terminated HUD's drug elimination program that duplicated the work of other Cabinet Departments.
- Developed and implemented a new general ledger system for FHA, as a first step in a multiyear plan to replace FHA's commercial accounting system with an integrated financial management system that fully complies with federal budgeting, accounting and system requirements.
- Drafted HUD's first Human Capital Management Plan to address the human capital issues facing the Department
- Implemented a major enterprise-wide realignment resulting in a streamlined organization with fewer organizational layers.
- Expanded training programs through HUD's Training Academy and launched HUD's Virtual University (HVU) that provides HUD employees with over 1,600 Internet courses.
- Developed in advance of most federal agencies the Department's first E-Government Strategic Plan.
- Increased the emphasis on awarding performance-based service contracts (PBSC); HUD awarded $75.3 million in PBSC obligations in 2001 and $80.4 million in 2002.
HUD is the nation's housing agency committed to increasing homeownership, particularly among minorities, creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans, supporting the homeless, elderly, people with disabilities and people living with AIDS. The Department also promotes economic and community development as well as enforces the nation's fair housing laws. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet.