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Department of Housing and Urban Development News Briefs - November 2015

Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, chairman of the House Committee on Financial Services, issued a press release Sept. 11 advocating for reform of how federal assistance is provided for housing. The statement invited interested advocates, organizations and ordinary citizens to submit ideas by Nov. 1 on how to restructure and rebuild the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Hensarling cited legislation signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson to create HUD as the nation’s 11th cabinet department. In his statement, Hensarling suggested the words of the original legislation for HUD’s design should guide the government in a new way of approaching the problems of poverty and housing affordability.

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On Sept. 15, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released the report, “Assistance is Provided by Federal, State and Local Programs, but There is Incomplete Information on Collective Performance.” The report, GAO-15-645, identifies the federal, state and local government funded programs that provide rental assistance to low-income households and identifies indications of program fragmentation and overlap. In the report GAO recommended that HUD, in consultation with the Rental Policy Working Group (RPWG), work with states and localities to develop an approach for compiling and reporting on the collective performance of federal, state and local rental assistance programs. The RPWG was established to better coordinate federal rental policy. The GAO report is available at www.gao.gov.

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HUD Secretary Julián Castro announced Sept. 28 that five communities will receive a combined $150 million to redevelop severely distressed public housing and revitalize the surrounding neighborhoods. The awards are available through the Choice Neighborhood Initiative Implementation grant program. The communities are located in Atlanta; Kansas City, Mo.; Memphis, Tenn.; Milwaukee; and Sacramento, Calif. The five awardees proposed to replace more than 1,650 distressed public housing units with more than 2,800 new mixed-income, mixed-use housing units. HUD received 33 applications for the fiscal year 2014-2015 grants.

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HUD announced Sept. 21 the award of $12.4 million in grants to 18 tribal communities through HUD’s Indian Community Development Block Grant program. Located in 13 states, the communities will use the funding to remove and prevent dangerous mold in more than 1,000 homes. Winners will address moisture issues by using construction materials and techniques known to resist mold and ensuring that staff or contractors use safe practices for identifying and eradicating mold. They will also educate residents on ways to prevent mold from reoccurring. Awards ranged from $300,000 to $800,000. The complete list of grantees is available at www.hud.gov.

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HUD announced Sept. 30 a total of $38 million for more than 100 organizations available through HUD’s Fair Housing Initiatives program. The grants will support fair housing testing, as well as activities that will educate the public, housing providers and local governments about rights and responsibilities under the Fair Housing Act. The funding categories are private enforcement initiatives grants, awarded to help nonprofit fair housing enforcement organizations carry out investigations; education and outreach initiative grants, provided to groups that educate the public and housing providers about their rights and responsibilities under federal law or state and local fair housing laws; and fair housing organization initiative grants, to help build the capacity and effectiveness of nonprofit fair housing organizations.

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Anchorage, Alaska, welcomed two new affordable housing complexes in early September. Tenants have already begun moving into the 18-unit Susitna Square in East Anchorage. The 70-unit Ridgeline Terrace complex is expected to be complete by the end of the year. The properties were developed with $2.6 million in HUD Neighborhood Stabilization grants, tax-exempt bonds and state and federal funding, as well as a private-public partnership made possible through the Alaska Corporation for Affordable Housing, a subsidiary of the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation. Development costs for the two properties totaled $29.5 million.

Journal Category:

Department of Housing and Urban Development

Authors:

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