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Friday, February 12, 2016

President's Proposed Budget Would Be a Major Step Forward in Addressing Homelessness

The White House released its proposed HUD budget this past week. I recommend you take a look at the National Housing Conference Blog, which does a nice job of summarizing it. This budget is more aggressive in dealing with homelessness than any of this President's previous budgets. I want to highlight a few elements of his proposal that are significant changes in affordable housing policy:

  • Allocates almost $11 billion to house homeless families over the next 10 years. In California, if this is combined with a $2 billion multi-year initiative proposed in this year's legislative session, real progress could be achieved in eliminating homelessness.
  • 10,000 new housing vouchers for homeless families
  • 25,500 new units of permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless individuals
  • Statutory changes to the HOME Program that include eliminating the 24-month commitment requirement, and eliminating the required 15% set-aside for Community Housing Development Organizations (CHDOs). In my view, these changes would allow greater flexibility and more effective use of the HOME Program by Participating Jurisdictions. These requirements often force communities to fund projects that are less feasible or not as ready to start construction as others. As a result, expending HOME funds within the mandated deadlines has been a challenge for many communities, especially those with few soft funding options.

Of course, there is the real possibility that this budget proposal is gutted by the time it gets through Congress. However, there is a glimmer of hope that there is enough bipartisan support for addressing homelessness and using HOME funds more efficiently that those portions of the budget could survive intact.

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