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Mandates block communities' ability to invest at home.

Increased fiscal demands on municipalities will adversely effect future investment of local funds into housing and community development activities, Tom Godfrey, chair of the Community and Economic Development Steering Committee, told a congressional subcommittee.

"Even cities operating under relative fiscal solvency, such as Salt lake City, must balance increased demands of crime prevention, solid waste disposal, growing infrastructure needs and affordable housing and costly federal and state mandates," said Godfrey.

Godfrey testified before the House Subcommittee on Housing and Community Development on April 2. The subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Henry B. Gonzales (D-Tex.), is accepting recommendations on how Congress should amend the housing and community development laws that will expire September 30, 1992.

Godrey called for a three year authorization for the HOME state and local block grant and the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) programs. He called for $3 billion for HOME in Fiscal Year 1993 and $4 billion for CDBG in Fiscal Year 1993.

Godrey said an extension of the waiver provision within the HOME state and local housing block grant program was important in ensuring municipal involvement in the HOME program. (HOME requires local governments to provide a match as a condition precedent to program participation. Due to the recession, Congress granted a one-year, across the board waiver of the match requirement.)

Godfrey cited the fiscal distress experienced by many cities as an obstacle to meeting any match requirements. He said that cities also must comply with costly mandates such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Clean Water Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and the Clean Air Act.

Godfrey said that the ADA is an example of an act with good intentions that will be costly to cities stating that Salt Lake City has estimated the cost of compliance will cost them at least $1 million.

"I can tell you," he said, "that my city will first spend its unobliged funds on mandates befofe participating in programs like HOME, in spite of our need for affordable housing."

Godfrey expressed opposition to the provision in President Bush's budget which would withhold Federal funds from local communities that did not have land use and zoning policies approved by HUD.

The President's recommendation is a result of a report issue last July which stated that unnecessary local government regulations increase the cost of housing.

Godfrey state NLC's position to efforts to require local governments to perform testing and, if necessary, abatement of housing units found with high levels of lead in its paint.

Sen. Alan Cranston (D-Calif.) has introduced legislation that would require communities to submit, as part of their CHAS, a strategy for testing and, if necessary, the abatement of all Federally subsidized housing units built prior to 1978.

Godfrey said that unless their is dedicated funding for this specific activity, NLC would have to oppose it.
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Author:Barreto, Julio
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Apr 6, 1992
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