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Kemp calls for ownership empowerment in housing.

Jack Kemp, Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), called for a national housing policy grounded on the principles that private ownership is a right for everyone and that citizens must be empowered to have choices in determining their living situations.

Kemp made his comments during testimony delivered before the House Subcommittee on Housing and Community Development March 24 in Washington, D.C. The subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Henry B. Gonzalez (D-Tex.), began its hearings on reauthorizing the housing and community development laws that are set to expire September 30, 1992.

Kemp's remarks were in support of the Administration's version of a housing reauthorization bill, the Opportunity and Empowerment Act of 1992. The bill calls for Congress to support $1 billion for the Homeownership Opportunities for People Everywhere (HOPE) which would allow tenants of public housing to purchase their units. It also allows public housing tenants to decide who should own and/or manage their development.

Kemp reemphasized the Administration's support for HOPE calling the 1992 funding level of $351 million "appalling." Kemp supported the President's budget request of $1 billion for HOPE stating that the enthusiasm for this initiative "proves that the American dream of homeownership is very much alive in our inner cities, and fully justifies the Administration's request for a substantial increase in HOPE funding for FY 1993".

The administration proposes paying for HOPE by reducing the funding level for the HOME state and local block grant program by 54 percent. HOME was appropriated $1.5 billion by Congress for FY 1992. For fiscal year 1993, the administration is asking for $700 million for HOME.

Kemp said he is "profoundly disappointed" that Congress eliminated the HOME match provision last year and called for it to be restored. In creating HOME, Congress called for local communities to provide a match for any funds received from this program. Due to the recession, Congress waived the match provision for one year.

Kemp called for the restoration of the match because its elimination "undermines state and local accountability for decision making, destroys the partnership aspect of the program, and reduces by many thousands the number of low and moderate income families served under HOME".

Kemp said the administration will increase its authorization for HOME by $250 million if the match is restored. Rep. Marge Roukema (R-N.J.), ranking minority member of the subcommittee, stated she agreed with Kemp on the match issue but disagreed with the president's funding request for HOME.

The legislative proposal includes a provision that grants HUD the authority to deny federal funds, loans, guarantees and/or revoke the authority of a municipality to issue tax-exempt municipal mortgage revenue bonds if it does not contain a "barriers removal strategy".

HUD is requesting that the lack of a strategy should be grounds for a Comprehensive Housing Affordability Strategy (CHAS). The CHAS is the housing plan local communities must submit before receiving HUD funds. Currently, approval of a "barriers removal strategy" cannot factor into the denial or approval of a CHAS. This request stems from a report released last year by the Advisory Commission on Regulatory Barriers to Affordable Housing that stated that local government regulations were responsible for the lack of affordable housing in local communities.

During the question and answer period, Kemp stated he would rather not withhold funds from local communities but would prefer offering incentives to ensure that local barriers to affordable housing were removed. He did not offer any examples of the incentives he would use, however, he said such local land use decisions, building codes, exclusivity clauses and density provisions that should be removed.
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Title Annotation:Jack Kemp
Author:Barreto, Julio
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Mar 30, 1992
Previous Article:Fiscal survey is on its way to your community.
Next Article:Partnership Act meets another delay in House.

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