HUD to "get back in the housing business" Cuomo says FWD

Tom Boland (
Wed, 4 Feb 1998 23:23:26 -0800 (PST)


By Lawrence L. Knutson   Associated Press Writer   January 30, 1998

WASHINGTON (AP) -- With rapidly falling budget deficits opening the door,
the federal government is aiming to ``get back in the housing business'' with
new investments to help the poor and the homeless, Housing Secretary Andrew
Cuomo says.

Filling in details from President Clinton's State of the Union address, Cuomo
said the administration will offer Congress a $1.4 billion package of increased
spending to provide housing, jobs and inner-city enterprise for the poor.

HUD officials said that spending for other purposes, to be announced Monday,
will boost the department's planned new spending to an even higher level.

``We have to invest in housing again,'' Cuomo said in a speech before the U.S.
Conference of Mayors. Clinton's plan does that, he said. He called it ``the
HUD budget in a generation.''

``For years, the federal budget deficit was a barrier to new spending, as it
should have been,'' Cuomo said. ``But once you do bring the deficits down you
can talk about progressive government again,'' he said. He noted that Clinton
has vowed to reduce deficits to zero in his new budget plan while permitting
new spending on a limited range of programs.

The plan Cuomo announced includes:

--$585 million in new spending for 100,000 in new rental subsidies, the first
new money for that purpose since 1994. Half of the subsidies, made available to
families in the form of vouchers, are earmarked to provide stable housing for
families trying to move from welfare to work. Of the total, $194 million in
subsidies would be used to help homeless people move from shelters to
permanent homes. The program would also help other poor people and the

--Community development block grants: Local governments would receive an
additional $250 million to help meet locally selected priorities.

--$100 million in new loan guarantees for a new HOME Bank program to give
towns and cities leveraged financing to build large-scale rental and
homeownership developments.

--$327 million in new homeless assistance money, to a total of $1.15
billion, to
help more homeless people get housing and become self-sufficient.

Other proposed spending programs would bolster existing homeownership
zones, provide counseling programs to aspiring low-income homeowners, help
families living in subsidized housing, control lead hazards in housing
developments, help redevelop contaminated industrial sites known as
``brownfields,'' and fight housing discrimination.

The housing secretary said that while a record 66 million Americans now own
their own homes, others struggle for housing and 600,000 people ``sleep on the
streets on any given night.''

``Yes we have created 14 million new jobs, but only 13 percent of them are
being created in cities where people need them most,'' he said.


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