WASHINGTON, D.C. – December 18, 2014 – (RealEstateRama) — U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro today issued the following statement in response to President Obama signing the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015. HUD’s $45 billion budget allows the Department to support the individuals and organizations that we currently serve, but also limits HUD’s ability to help some new families reach the middle class or pursue their dream of homeownership. As the President has said, the legislation is a compromise and no one got everything they wanted. But, it is a step towards proving that a divided government can work without governing by crisis or threatening an economic recovery that’s growing stronger – which the President believes is a hopeful sign for next year.
The Agency will continue to focus on helping to secure quality housing for Americans, ending homelessness, making our communities more resilient from natural disasters, protecting people from housing discrimination and providing and preserving rental housing assistance for millions of extremely poor Americans, among other priorities.
“HUD is the Department of Opportunity. We support millions of Americans with the housing they need to succeed and we invest in making communities economically strong and inclusive. Our mission isn’t a Republican or a Democratic issue-it’s an American issue,” said HUD Secretary Julián Castro. “As needs for our services have gone up in states, cities and counties across the country, HUD’s resources have gone down. As we have time and time again, we’ll continue to find creative ways to have the greatest impact with the resources we have available so that we can continue expanding opportunity for all.”
HUD’s budget will allow for the continuation of key administration priorities including;
- Choice Neighborhoods Initiative – Redevelops severely distressed public and HUD-assisted housing and brings comprehensive neighborhood revitalization to blighted areas. HUD will receive $80 million in FY15 Choice Neighborhoods funds to transform distressed public and assisted housing into sustainable, mixed-income housing with connections to key assets and services supporting positive outcomes for families living in the development and in the surrounding neighborhood.
- Tribal Lands to Access HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) – For the first time, the successful HUD-VASH program is expanded to include those veterans living in Indian country. This allows HUD to support an additional 10,000 housing vouchers with critical supportive services from VA. HUD-VASH combines housing vouchers with critical supportive services from VA and is a critical component of the Administration’s effort to eliminate veteran homelessness by the end of 2015.
“It is unacceptable that after their service and sacrifice, too many of our veterans find themselves living without a roof over their heads,” said Secretary Castro. “The expansion of HUD-VASH to include Indian country is a significant step forward in reducing homelessness among veterans. These vouchers will help communities build on the progress of reducing homelessness among veterans by a third in just four years, providing targeted assistance to those in need to ensure that every veteran has a home.”
Two important priority initiatives not included in this year’s budget were:
- Funding to end chronic homelessness in 2016 – HUD requested a $301 million increase in homeless assistance grants for FY 2015 to develop permanent supportive housing for individuals and families experiencing chronic homelessness. The Department did not receive the full request, directly impacting the thousands of communities across America fighting to end chronic homelessness by the end of 2016.
- Homeowners Armed with Knowledge (HAWK) – This pilot program for new homebuyers was created in 2014 to further incorporate housing counseling into the home buying process for borrowers using FHA insured financing. The implementation of HAWK is now delayed for at least a year.
The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) provided the following statement on HAWK:
“Over the last few years FHA has proposed a number of steps to better serve borrowers and lenders in an ongoing effort to expand credit access and ultimately continue moving the economy in a positive direction,” said Biniam Gebre, Acting FHA Commissioner and Assistant Secretary for Housing. “We are disappointed programs that could have served many families will not be permitted under the bill.”
Under the program, homebuyers who committed to housing counseling would have qualified for tangible savings on their FHA-insured loans. The average buyer would have saved approximately $9,800 over the life of their loan. HUD continues to believe the HAWK program is a strong step toward integrating housing counseling into the home buying process and ensuring broad access to housing counseling services.
HUD’s mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes: utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination; and transform the way HUD does business. More information about HUD and its programs is available at www.hud.gov and espanol.hud.gov. You can also follow HUD on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or sign up for news alerts on HUD’s Email List.