March 14, 2003
SECRETARY MARTINEZ HIGHLIGHTS BUSH ADMINISTRATION'S FY 2004 BUDGET, WHICH WILL PROVIDE $44 MILLION TO INCREASE AFFORDABLE HOUSING IN NC
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez today discussed
the Bush Administration's proposed housing budget for fiscal year 2004, highlighting
the $113 million increase for the Department's Home Investment Partnerships
Program (HOME) that will help more than 600 states and communities nationwide
create more opportunities for affordable housing.
Funds will be distributed to cities and communities across state to meet
locally identified housing needs
Speaking at a groundbreaking in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood, Martinez touted the additional funding as part of the Bush Administration's ongoing effort to increase minority homeownership and encourage the production of affordable housing. Martinez indicated that the budget calls for North Carolina to receive nearly $44 million in HOME funding - a $2.1 million boost over the previous level.
"The Bush Administration is committed to bridging the homeownership gap between minority and non-minority families," Martinez said. "I am pleased to be here in Lincoln Heights to highlight a partnership where local lenders and nonprofits are working together with Freddie Mac and the federal government to create more affordable housing opportunities."
Martinez joined U.S. Representatives Mel Watt and Robin Hayes, as well as Charlotte Mayor Patrick McCrory and Freddie Mac Executive Vice President Paul Peterson, at the launch of the Northwest Corridor Homeownership Initiative. This new Charlotte-based public-private partnership will feature the construction of two townhouse developments, Vantage Pointe and Phoenix Rising, that will become home to 51 families.
These townhomes will be affordable through flexible mortgage financing and downpayment-assistance programs. Resources for construction and downpayment assistance will in part come from HOME funding.
Martinez said the initiative is an example of a positive local response to
"America's Homeownership Challenge," President Bush's call last year
to the housing industry, state and local governments, and faith-based and community
organizations to join with the Administration in adding 5.5 million new minority
homeowners by the end of the decade. This increase will help close the "homeownership
gap" between minority and non-minority Americans.
In his remarks, Martinez highlighted the Bush Administration's ongoing efforts to increase minority homeownership in North Carolina and throughout the nation.
In this fiscal year, Charlotte will receive $2.8 million in HOME funding, part of the $41.7 million going to North Carolina and $2 billion in national funding. The Administration's FY 2004 budget requests $2.2 billion for HOME, a $113 million increase over FY 2003. Approximately $43.9 million will go to North Carolina. HOME funds are provided to state and local governments to finance the costs of land acquisition, construction, rehabilitation and down payment assistance.
The budget includes $200 million for the American Dream Downpayment Initiative to help an estimated 40,000 families a year overcome the initial financial hurdle to homeownership. In the Charlotte area, for example, a family of four earning $51,300 or less would be eligible for downpayment assistance through this initiative.
Other elements of the FY 2004 budget request designed to increase minority homeownership include:
- Housing Counseling. The President's spending plan includes an additional
$5 million to provide counseling services to lower-income Americans who wish
to become homeowners or who seek affordable rental housing. The additional
funding would bring HUD's Housing Counseling Grant Program to $45 million,
more than double the amount appropriated in FY 2002 and will help 250,000
additional individuals and families to find and maintain homes.
- Single-Family Affordable Housing Tax Credit. To stimulate the production
of affordable homes in distressed communities where such housing is scare,
the Administration is proposing a tax credit of up to 50 percent of the cost
of new construction or rehabilitation. This tax credit targets low-income
households earning less than 80 percent of an area's median income.
- Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP). President Bush is proposing $65 million to fund so-called "sweat equity" homeownership programs. Triple the funding level of 2002, this proposal would provide grants to support nonprofit organizations like Habitat for Humanity, which requires low-income families to help construct the homes they will eventually own.
- Housing Choice Voucher Homeownership. HUD allows local housing agencies the flexibility to use rental assistance vouchers toward moving low-income families into homeownership. The housing agencies may either provide mortgage assistance in lieu of a rental subsidy or offer families a one-time downpayment grant equaling up to one-year's worth of their rental assistance.
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.