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Cisneros outlines plan to shift HOME funds toward homeless.

HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros proposed four budget amendments that would transfer funds from current programs, including the community development block grants (CDBG) and the HOME block grant programs, to fund innovative homeless programs and other initiatives.

Appearing before the House Subcommittee on Housing and Community Development June 16, Cisneros called for a reallocation of CDBG, HOME and Homeownership Opportunities for People Everywhere (HOPE) funds totaling $200 million to fund homeless programs. The exact of amount to be extracted from each program has not been identified.

"We want to create this special fund so we can encourage imaginative and resourceful efforts to address homeless in a comprehensive manner across the country," he said, "to bridge the gap between the current fragmented system and a continuum of care."

Rep. Marge Roukema (R-N.J.) stated her unequivocal opposition to using HOME funds to pay for these new initiatives. In response to criticism that 1994 HOME funds will be reduced to pay for this iniative, Cisneros said that if it is a choice between housing the homeless and waiting for the HOME dollars to be spent, he will house the homeless.

Roukema stated that housing reauthorization bill of 1992 included changes to homeless program that were designed to accomplish what the department is proposing. Cisneros countered that current homeless programs are inflexible and do not assist these communities with immediate needs.

Cisneros said that half of the funds ($100 million) would go to cites that are experiencing "major" homeless problems. Washington, D.C. is expected to be one of the first recipients of funds with a total amount estimated to be $20 million. A set of criteria to determine which cities are in the greatest needs will be established to avoid any perception that this is a slush fund, Cisneros said.

The second aspect of this iniative is to provide funds for homeless projects that show a continuum of care in small cities rot rural areas. In response to Rep. Bernard Sanders (D-Vt.) and former mayor of Burlington, Vt., Cisneros said that he is creating a new special assistant's position in his office to work exclusively on rural issues.

Cisneros said that for this second phase locales will be chosen through a competition and will provide models that could be replicated by towns or areas of similar circumstances.

Other provisions of his proposal include:

* $50 million from HOME to provide capacity building to help community-based corporations rebuild low income communities by leveraging private grants and below market rate loans.

* $100 million from the 1994 budget for tenant-based assistance for a partnership with the AFL-CIO for constructing and reconstructing low -income housing. These funds will provide for 3,000 project based certificates for low income renters.

* $113 million for 3,000 additional units of Section 8 Existing housing certificates and/or vouchers for the Moving to Opportunity program. Moving to Opportunity is designed to assist families living in high-poverty project-based assisted housing to move to privately owned housing units in low-poverty areas.
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Title Annotation:Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development Henry Cisneros
Author:Barreto, Julio
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Jun 21, 1993
Words:497
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