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Poverty Task Force discusses HUD 2010 Budget, Foreclosures, Homelessness

By Patricia Carter
June 29, 2009


Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa chaired a meeting of the Poverty, Work and Opportunity Task Force that featured Bruce Katz, Vice President and Director of the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution. The heavily attended meeting allowed mayors to focus on and discuss the HUD 2010 budget, which Katz provided an overview of, as well as, other issues including the foreclosure crisis, transportation and urban sprawl, and homelessness.

Katz called mayors "the delivery system" that is crucial to implementation of many of the Obama Administration's proposed policies. In his outline of the HUD 2010 budget, Katz noted that the budget strives to achieve five key objectives. The budget will:

  • enable HUD to address the nation's housing and economic crisis.

  • restore federal leadership on promoting affordable rental housing.

  • invest strategically in rural and metropolitan communities.

  • drive energy efficient housing and inclusive, sustainable growth.

  • transform the way HUD does business.

Discussion among the mayors focused on the mortgage foreclosure crisis and what could be done to encourage lenders to work with homeowner's facing foreclosure. During the discussion that ensued, Providence Mayor David Cicilline noted that Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter spearheaded the passage of an ordinance that requires that all owner-occupied properties scheduled for sheriff's sale to be scheduled for a conciliation conference between lender and borrower before the property can be sold. Based on the success on this Mortgage Foreclosure Pilot Program in Philadelphia, Cicilline is looking at adopting a similar ordinance in Providence. The HUD Budget requests 37 million for an agency-wide initiative to combat mortgage fraud and predatory practices. The HUD budget also requests 100 million for the Housing Counseling Assistance, an increase of 35 million over the level provided in FY 2009.

Mayors expressed concern about the growing ranks of the homelessness, fuel by unemployment and the mortgage crisis. It was noted that solutions for the problem of homelessness would be solved by the creation of public-private ventures. While government can and should play a vital role, philanthropic effort will also be require. The model utilized by Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper's asks local church congregations to sponsor a homeless family or senior citizen was one effective example discussed. The HUD budget requests $1.794 billion for Homeless Assistance Grants, an increase of $117 million over the fiscal 2009 appropriated level. The funds would provide for rental assistance, emergency shelter, transitional and permanent housing and supportive services to homeless persons and families.

Mayors discussed urban development issues including urban sprawl, mixed-use community development. Villaraigosa told attendees that in the Watts area of his city, crime is down by approximately 50 percent in the last three to four years. "Not coincidently we built market-rate housing in Watts in the same time frame." Mayors stressed the importance of making sure that the "UD" in HUD receives urgent attention and innovative programming. The HUD budget requests $4.45 billion for the Community Development Block Grant program, an increase of $550 million over the fiscal year 2009 appropriated level. HUD has requested 250 million for a Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, 130 million over the level appropriated for HOPE VI in fiscal year 2009. Choice Neighborhoods would continue the effort, started under HOPE VI, to alleviate the intense concentration of poverty in inner city neighborhoods that is caused by the over concentration of public and assisted housing.