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National Housing Conference supports HOME program at congressional hearing

Nov. 4, 2011

HUD Releases Proposed HOME Rule Today 

WASHINGTON—The National Housing Conference, known as the united voice for housing, today commended the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s announcement of proposed rules to strengthen oversight of the $1.6 billion HOME Investment Partnerships Program, which has been accused of waste and lax oversight.  HUD’s announcement comes after NHC testified alongside current and former HUD employees this week in a joint hearing before the House Subcommittee on Insurance, Housing and Community Opportunity and the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

In announcing the new regulation HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan said the new rules will improve the performance and accountability of the HOME program, which directs federal money to states and localities to use to build or buy affordable housing. The proposed changes would require state and local governments to improve oversight of HOME projects. Jurisdictions would be required to examine the financial health and capacity of participating developers and nonprofit groups, establish procedures to protect homebuyers from predatory lending and consider local housing needs before approving a project.

“We want to expand HOME’s impact and ensure that every dollar is used smartly to help families afford their homes,” Donovan said in a press release announcing the rule. The new rules have been in the works since 2009, according to the release.

In NHC’s testimony earlier in the week, Ethan Handelman, NHC Vice President of Policy and Advocacy, pointed out that a majority of NHC’s members do not administer HOME funding, but most consider the program integral to the ability of states and localities to respond to the housing needs they judge most pressing. 

“As many national housing organizations stated in their joint letter to this committee, HOME allows states and communities to serve the whole spectrum of need, from homeless to ownership to disaster recovery, from urban to rural areas, and all low‐income populations, including families with children, the elderly, and persons with special needs,” Handelman said. 

NHC signed onto a letter circulated by the National Council of State Housing Agencies along with more than 30 national groups that support HOME. Handelman added that NHC and other groups signing the NCSHA letter support efforts to ensure all HOME funds are properly used. “HOME creates homes for those who need them most.  HUD should continue its efforts to make the program as efficient and effective as possible,” he said.

Handelman’s written testimony is available here. An archived webcast of the November 2 hearing is available at the House Financial Services Committee’s website.

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This story was updated from the original, posted November 2, 2011.