HUD No. 07-073
May 24, 2007
HUD HOSTS NATIONAL AFFORDABLE RENTAL HOUSING SYMPOSIUM
Jackson reaffirms Administration commitment to affordability
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development today brought many of the multifamily housing community's leading stakeholders together for a National Affordable Rental Housing Symposium to discuss the state of affordable housing and how to preserve it for the future.
HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson opened the session by calling for affordable housing to remain a national priority. "For many, the American Dream is about homeownership, but homeownership is neither wanted by every person, nor affordable for everyone," said Jackson. "There is an obvious need for rental housing. We must keep the market we have - and expand it."
The symposium included four panels discussing:
- The Importance of Preservation in a Housing strategy
- Preservation, Redevelopment and Deconcentration strategies
- Special Needs Housing and its Challenges
- Barriers and Opportunities in Preservation
Assistant Secretary for Housing-Federal Housing Commissioner Brian D. Montgomery, who gave closing remarks at the session, said: "This symposium brought about an excellent exchange of ideas and an opportunity for those interested in the preservation of affordable housing to become part of this vital mission."
HUD also released the tenth in its series of reports on "Worst Case Rental Housing Needs." These needs are for housing for unassisted renters with very low incomes (below 50 percent of area median incomes) who pay more than half of their income for housing or live in substandard conditions.
The report found that in 2005, the last year for which complete data is available, the total number of low-income households experiencing housing needs was just under 6 million. This is about 5.5 percent of all American households. Most of those in need were elderly or families with children, and half a million of these families are headed by a person with a disability.
Almost all of these 6 million families said that they were not having trouble finding housing, but were having trouble simply affording the rent. In almost all cases it was about affordability in the rental market.
"It is unacceptable that so many hard-working families are still struggling to find homes or apartments within their budgets," Jackson said. "It is unacceptable that so many people are forced to commute long distances, or live in sub-standard housing, or reside in over-crowded conditions."
Jackson reminded the group that the largest component of HUD's budget is for affordable housing. He called for industry and community support in this effort by renovating affordable housing, whenever possible; building affordable housing, whenever practical; and opening up non-rental properties as affordable housing, whenever workable.
Jackson noted that the President's new budget offers some powerful ideas for expanding the availability of affordable housing.
- The HOME Investment Partnerships Program is one of our most successful efforts. Since 1992, more than 600 communities have built almost 762,000 affordable housing units. The President has asked Congress for almost $2 billion for the HOME Program in the coming fiscal year. These funds would help finance land acquisition, new construction, rehabilitation, down payment opportunities, and rental assistance.
- HUD's Housing Choice Voucher Program, which is providing approximately two million low-income families with subsidies to obtain affordable housing. This is a substantial national commitment. The President has asked Congress for $16 billion in the next fiscal year, coupled with some changes in the program that would allow for housing authorities to assist even more families.
- Eliminating the cap on the number of families each housing authority is allowed to assist. The President has proposed this. By better utilizing all appropriated funds, this change would allow the program to assist at least 180,000 more families. Think what that will mean for each of those families. It is a smart move…makes government more responsive and gets more assistance for the money. That kind of approach can make a substantial difference.
- Preserving Housing tax credits. Each year, housing tax credits produce about 100,000 affordable units. Since its inception, tax credits have funded more than 1.3 million affordable units of housing.
- America's Affordable Community Initiative. Created in 2003, this initiative is designed to help state and local leaders cut red tape and overcome regulatory barriers to affordable housing. By reducing development costs by as much as 35 percent, millions of American police officers, nurses, firefighters, service workers and others would be able to buy or rent suitable affordable housing in the communities of their choice.
- Continue Public Housing Capital Fund Financing Program. This program allows public housing authorities to borrow from banks or issue bonds using future Capital Fund grants as collateral or debt service.
The President's budget also proposes a significant change that would help seniors and Americans with disabilities by eliminating regulatory barriers to mixed-finance arrangements, including low-income housing credits and other creative options to help develop more units of affordable housing.
Note: "Worst Case Rental Housing Needs" report can be found on www.huduser.org.
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, and enforces the nation's fair housing laws. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet and espanol.hud.gov.