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House subcommittee approves HOME block grant funding.

A $600 million increase in funding for the HOME state and local block grant program was approved by the House Subcommittee on Housing and Community Development as part of a reauthorization bill.

The subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Henry B Gonzalez (D-Tex.), completed it work last week after two days of often partisan debate. The subcommittee, voted along party lines, 22-13, to send the reauthorization bill to the full committee for approval. The full committee is not expected to meet until after the Memorial Day recess.

The subcommittee approved an amendment introduced by Rep. Marge Roukema (R-N.J.) that would increase the HOME program by $600 million and later defeated an amendment by Roukema that would have called for a 25 percent match requirement for jurisdictions wishing to participate in the HOME program.

HOME requires participating jurisdiction to provide a match as a condition to receiving funds from the program. The reauthorization bill approved by the sub-committee calls for a 10 percent match, but a waiver provision for communities experiencing extreme fiscal distress.

Rep. Frank Riggs (R-Calif.) and Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) plan to introduce an amendment at full committee that would authorize the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to require communities to include a barriers removal strategy in their Comprehensive Housing Affordability Strategy (CHAS).

According to Riggs and Frank, HUD would have the authority to withhold federal funds, such as Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds, from local communities that do not submit an approved strategy. Both congressmen support a waiver of any housing match requirements for communities that develop a strategy.

In explaining his position, Frank said he had very little sympathy for cities which, in his opinion promote housing discrimination through land use ordinances and zoining. He would narrow the scope of HUD's review to the program cities want most like CDBG to ensure they remove "discriminatory practices."

The amendment came in response to a report released in July 1991 that stated that local government regulations drove up the cost of housing by 35 percent.

Rep. Ben Erdreich (D-Ala.) stated his opposition to the proposal saying that he is not confident that HUD is in the position to determine what is appropriate for a local community. He witheld further comment until the full committee.

In other action, the subcommittee approved an amendment adopted by Frank that requires communities to submit an anti-poverty plan as part of the CHAS and approved an amendment introduced by Roukema that allows Section 8 certificates and vouchers to be used for purchasing a home and making mortgage payments, adopted an amendment by Rep. Charles Schumer (D-NY) that would raise the cost limits for multifamily housing under HOME based on a higher 221 (d)(3) limits, and adopted an amendment introduced by Erdreich that allows owners of manufactured housing to be considered as first time home buyers under HOME.
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Author:Barreto, Julio
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:May 25, 1992
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