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Congressman Michael Capuano serves as ranking member of the subcommittee.
The subcommittee oversees the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Government National Mortgage Association (Ginnie Mae). The subcommittee also handles matters related to public, affordable, and rural housing, as well as community development including Empowerment Zones, and government-sponsored insurance programs, such as the Federal Housing Administration and the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provided approximately $46 billion in fiscal year 2010 for affordable housing and community development purposes. Approximately two- thirds of the HUD budget goes to provide rental assistance for low-income families, seniors, and the disabled through site-based Section 8 and public housing, and through portable Section 8 vouchers. In addition, over $6 billion is made available to states and localities through flexible block grants for the purposes of affordable housing, community development, housing for persons with AIDS and their families, and emergency shelter for the homeless. The remainder of HUD funds are used for programs such as elderly and disabled housing construction, preventing homelessness, Native American Housing, lead paint reduction, among others.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture, through the Rural Housing Service (RHS), will provide approximately $1.89 billion in fiscal year 2010 in loans and grants for affordable housing in rural areas. Programs include direct loans and loan guarantees for single family and multi-family properties, self-help and farm labor programs, rural rental housing assistance, and repair funds for single family homes and multifamily projects in the RHS inventory.
The Committee’s Democratic Caucus has consistently advocated for increased funding for affordable housing needs and has opposed cuts to affordable housing programs. The Caucus opposed efforts by the previous Administration to abolish bipartisan, successful programs, including the Public Housing Drug Elimination program (abolished in 2001) and the HOPE VI program to revitalize distressed and obsolete public housing units. Committee Democrats have also pushed for adoption of legislative proposals to reform the Section 8 program, modernize the HOPE VI program, and ensure the long-term affordability and availability of mortgage insurance through FHA and flood insurance through NFIP.
The complete jourisdiction of the subcommittee includes:
(i) insurance generally; terrorism risk insurance; private mortgage insurance; government sponsored insurance programs, including those offering protection against crime, fire, flood (and related land use controls), earthquake and other natural hazards; the Federal Insurance Office;
(ii) housing (except programs administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs), including mortgage and loan insurance pursuant to the National Housing Act; rural housing; housing and homeless assistance programs; all activities of the Government National Mortgage Association; housing construction and design and safety standards; housing related energy conservation; housing research and demonstration programs; financial and technical assistance for nonprofit housing sponsors; housing counseling and technical assistance; regulation of the housing industry (including landlord/tenant relations); and real estate lending including regulation of settlement procedures;
(iii) community development and community and neighborhood planning, training and research; national urban growth policies; urban/rural research and technologies; and regulation of interstate land sales; and,
(iv) the qualifications for and designation of Empowerment Zones and Enterprise Communities (other than matters relating to tax benefits).
Affordable Housing Production and Preservation
The last decade has seen an increased need for affordable rental housing units, as rents have risen dramatically in many local markets and wages, particularly among low-income earners, have been generally stagnant. Committee Democrats have made as a top priority the creation and funding of a program to build additional affordable housing units under the National Affordable Housing Trust fund.
The need for affordable housing production is magnified by the loss of hundreds of thousands of affordable housing units in the last several years. These losses have resulted from private owners exercising their right to convert HUD- and USDA-subsidized units to non-restricted units with higher rents, and from the demolition of public housing units. Committee Democrats have advocated for more resources for affordable housing preservation, and opposed the repeal of preservation funds.
HUD plays a critical role in the area of homeownership, especially with respect to our nation’s mortgage markets. The FHA, an arm of HUD, insures mortgage loans for over 2 million borrowers each year, with an emphasis on first-time homebuyers, HUD also regulates the two leading providers of mortgage credit (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac), regulates the construction of manufactured housing, and operates fair housing programs.
Committee Democrats place a high priority on fighting discrimination and expanding homeownership opportunities for minorities, low-income families, and those living in rural, urban and under-served areas. They support strong fair housing enforcement, the preservation of the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), reigning in predatory lending activities, and expanding resources for housing counseling. Committee Democrats have developed initiatives to provide assistance to first-time homebuyers, along with efforts to keep families in their home through foreclosure prevention activities. Specifically, Committee Democrats have conducted strong oversight of the Administration’s Home Affordable Modification Program, and fought for funds in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform bill to assist unemployed and underemployed homeowners with loans to help them avoid foreclosure. Committee Democrats also created the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP), which provides grants to cities, counties, states and non-profits to purchase and redevelop foreclosed and abandoned homes and turn them into homeownership and rental opportunities for low- and moderate-income households. To date, the NSP has been provided with nearly $7 billion in funding, and localities have used those funds to deal with the large supply of foreclosed, abandoned and vacant housing that drag down neighboring property values and drive up municipal costs.