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Guest Post — Re: HOME Program at HUD

November 8, 2011 AHCMC 0 Comment

November 7, 2011
The Washington Post got it wrong – again
Written by: HUD Public Affairs
Today, the Washington Post highlighted a small number of stalled housing developments funded under HUD’s HOME Investment Partnerships Program to conclude that there are “continuing problems” with the program.
The facts about HOME’s success speak for themselves. Over its 20-year history, HOME has produced more than a million affordable homes for low-income families in more than 600 communities. It’s helped nearly half a million people—440,000—become new homebuyers and put a roof over the heads of a quarter-million low-income households who need a helping hand paying the rent. And it’s created jobs – leveraging nearly $4 of private and other public investment for every dollar it invests.
HOME is particularly important today, at a time when 5.6 million American families pay more than half of their income towards rent and the recession has driven millions of Americans into poverty – 2.6 million from 2009 to 2010 alone, and 43 million Americans in all.
If there is any fundamental challenge for the HOME right now it’s the economic slowdown.
Given the state of the economy, and that the Post deployed 54 reporters to look for stalled projects, it’s not surprising that they would find some. Indeed, countless public and private housing developments alike have ground to a halt during the recession and its aftermath. Yet even still, as we have argued since May, affordable housing development funded through the HOME Program is actually performing BETTER than the private market.
In today’s article the Post focuses on a group of developments where fewer units were built that originally planned. That’s a classic example of how the economy has impacted housing development leading to developments needing to be downsized and, in those cases, the HOME subsidy for the units not built is either returned to HUD or redirected to other developments.
After the Post published a story in May that alleged nearly 700 HOME projects were stalled, HUD took the Post story seriously and carefully checked the status of those projects. It is strange that today’s story attempts to portray these actions in a negative light. You might think the Post would be pleased that HUD was responding to their alleged findings. In fact, contrary to the Post’s claim that Secretary Donovan wouldn’t comment, a team from HUD, including the Secretary met with the Post to review their allegations. We repeatedly asked the Post to provide the list of 700 projects that they claimed were stalled. They repeatedly refused. So we ran our own list using the criteria described by the Post in their article and discovered that more than half of projects that could have been flagged as “stalled” based on The Post’s criteria are actually finished.