March 7, 2006
HUD SECRETARY DISCUSSES HUD LEGISLATION WITH STATE HOUSING OFFICIALS
Jackson maintains reform to Section 8 will repair rental assistance program
WASHINGTON - U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson told state housing finance officials that the Bush Administration is committed to working with them to help house more American families.
"The President made a historic commitment four years ago. He wants to create 5.5 million new minority homeowners by 2010," said Jackson, who spoke at the National Council of State Housing Agencies' 2006 Legislative Conference in Washington. "It is only through working with you that we will meet or exceed that goal."
While creating more homeowners is a top priority for the administration, Jackson said the President is equally committed to breaking down barriers to increase the number of all affordable housing in the U.S., including rental dwellings. He discussed two HUD bills that are currently before Congress that aim to open more doors to homeownership and affordable rental housing.
Jackson said one piece of legislation that HUD is encouraging Congress to pass would allow FHA to adopt a risk-based premium structure. This would provide an option to potential homeowners who have no choice right now but to go to sub-prime lenders. A risk-based premium structure would allow HUD to match FHA insurance premiums with the credit profile of the borrower. Those with good credit would pay less. HUD believes FHA should have flexibilities similar to those of private lenders.
Jackson also talked to the group about HUD's State and Local Housing Flexibility Act (SLHFA), another piece of legislation currently before Congress. SLHFA was introduced last year to reform the Housing Choice Voucher program, formerly known as Section 8. Jackson said fixing the Section 8 program is more urgent now than ever because of the growing cost of the program. This year it will consume 64 percent of HUD's budget. SLHFA will give public housing authorities (PHAs) level funding, but greater flexibility. Added flexibility will allow PHAs to administer the program more effectively and efficiently while serving more families.
Jackson assured attendees that this was not a "backdoor" attempt to cut funding for this important rental assistance program, but a sure way to repair - not reduce - the program to help more families who need it.
In addition to Jackson's morning address, newly appointed HUD Assistant Secretaries participated in a mid-morning roundtable discussion titled, "New Faces at HUD." Attendees heard from Assistant Secretaries Orlando Cabrera, Pamela Patenaude and Brian Montgomery. Cabrera took questions regarding the Office of Public and Indian Housing. Patenaude addressed programs for the Office of Community Planning and Development, and Montgomery, the Federal Housing Commissioner, covered issues regarding the Office of Housing and the Federal Housing Administration.
HUD is the nation's housing agency committed to increasing homeownership, particularly among minorities; creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans; and 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 and espanol.hud.gov.