March 30, 2006
JACKSON TESTIFIES TO THE HOUSE FINANCIAL SERVICES COMMITTEE
HUD Secretary addresses the Administration's 2007Budget and outlines program reforms
WASHINGTON - Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson today appealed to Congress to approve the Bush Administration's Fiscal Year 2007 budget, telling a House Committee the Department's $33.6 billion funding request advances HUD's mission to increase homeownership, support community development and increase affordable housing free from discrimination.
Testifying before the House Financial Services Committee, Jackson told members that HUD will also pursue reforming the Federal Housing Administration, making FHA's mortgage insurance products more flexible so that a greater number of Americans can qualify for mortgages without being forced into the costlier sub-prime marketplace.
"The President is very concerned about helping all Americans have access to decent and affordable housing and this budget demonstrates that concern," said Jackson. "At the same time, the President understands that fiscal restraint is necessary if we want to reduce the deficit and keep the economy growing."
Among the other elements of next year's spending blueprint, Jackson detailed HUD's request for $1.9 billion for the HOME Investment Partnerships Program. HOME traditionally stimulates $3.60 in private sector investment for every dollar allocated to local governments under this program. The Bush Administration is also proposing $100 million to fund the American Dream Downpayment Initiative (ADDI) to help thousands of families to afford to purchase their first home. In addition, the budget includes the Homeownership Voucher program, which would allow families on Section 8 rental assistance to use their rental vouchers to pay a mortgage on their own home for up to 10 years. The Secretary also told committee members that HUD is seeking $45 million to fund hundreds of housing counseling agencies around the country.
To support HUD's mission of helping low-income families find decent, affordable rental housing, the Secretary proposed the Choice Voucher rental assistance program at $16 billion and encouraged Congress to pass legislation to allow local public housing agencies to design their own rent policies. To achieve this goal, Secretary Jackson asked Congress to support Congressman Gary Miller's State and Local Housing Flexibility Act, HR 1999.
Jackson also told the Committee that HUD will shortly propose a new formula to allocate billions of dollars in funding under the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program to better target the program's resources to areas of the country in greatest need. CDBG's current formula is nearly 30 years old and increasingly fails to allocate funding to areas that have the greatest community development needs.
Supporting the Administration's plan to consolidate three homeless assistance programs into one, Jackson appealed to committee members to support a bill proposed by Congressman Rick Renzi yesterday. This proposed legislation would dramatically streamline the application process for more than 3,700 communities across the country seeking HUD funding under the Department's Continuum of Care programs and speed the delivery of those resources to people and families in need.
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.