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Outlook good for housing program reauthorization.

Scoring a victory for cities, the House voted overwhelmingly to adopt the conference report on legislation that would reauthorize the nation's housing and community development laws for another two years.

The House adopted, by a 377 to 37 vote, the conference report on H.R. 5334, the Housing and Community Development Act of 1992. The Senate is expected to take quick action on the bill before adjournment.

The bill contains a number of provisions two-tiered match requirement for communities participating in the HOME state and local block grant program and a waiver from the match requirement based on the per capita income and poverty rate of a community. (For details see Nation's Cities Weekly, October 5, 1992.)

The bill allows communities to use debt financing to meet up to 25 percent of the HOME match requirement for all eligible activities. This is a change from a tentative agreement reported previously in NCW. The previous agreement would have allowed communities to use debt financing to cover up to 50 percent of the match requirement for multi-family housing.

Conferees reached a final agreement on a provision the would require local governments to test all pre-1978 federally subsidized, project-based housing units for hazardous levels of lead based paint. The bill calls for testing and reductions and/or abatement of all pre-1960 housing by January 1, 1996.

The bill requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to issue regulations to ensure that anyone involved in lead paint activities is trained. For targeted housing, lead based activities are defined as risk assessment, inspection and abatement. For other buildings and structures, these activities are defined as deleading, demolition, identification and removing lead from bridges.

The bill also contains provisions that will allow cities to use community development block grant (CDBG) funds for economic development activities. The bill calls for greater flexibility in issuing loans to microenterprises to take into account the especial needs of those businesses.

The bill also calls for guidelines to ensure that the public benefit provided by the economic development activity is appropriate to the amount of federal assistance provided; determines that an activity would benefit low and moderate income persons if that individual lived in a census tract area that meets enterprise zone criteria or is within a census tract where 70 percent of the residents have incomes at 80 percent or lower than the area median; and, requires the General Accounting Office (GAO) to study the use of CDBG funds for economic development activities.
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Author:Barreto, Julio
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Oct 12, 1992
Words:412
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