President Barack Obama's proposed 2010 budget has sparked much discussion among right and left and caused a ton of grandstanding (I'm talking to you Evan Bayh and Mike Pence--sadly from my state) recently. How do you feel about the proposed budget? Do you even know what's in it? I don't, but I intend to find out--one section at a time. Today, let's look at the budget for the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development.
Total budget: $47.5 billion (18 percent increase over proposed 2009 budget; flat to actual 2008 budget)
Highlights (per fact sheet on White House Web site)
HELPING PEOPLE AFFORD SAFE, DECENT HOUSINGProvides funding for an Affordable Housing Trust Fund for the first time. The Budget requests $1 billion to restore financing of the development, rehabilitation, and preservation of affordable housing for very low income residents though the Housing Trust Fund.Increases funding for the Housing Choice Voucher program. To address the program's costly inefficiencies, the Administration will introduce legislative reforms to help fully utilize available funding, alleviate the administrative burdens on the Public Housing Authorities, and establish a funding mechanism that is transparent and predictable in order to serve more needy families. This program helps more than two million extremely low- to low-income families with rental assistance to live in decent housing in neighborhoods of their choice.Increases funding for rental assistance. The Project-Based Rental Assistance program will preserve approximately 1.3 million affordable rental units through increased funding for contracts with owners of multifamily properties. This critical investment will assist low- and very low-income households in obtaining decent, safe and sanitary housing in private accommodations.Combats mortgage fraud and precautionary practices. The Budget provides funds to combat mortgage fraud and predatory practices, and includes increased funding for fair housing enforcement. These resources will allow HUD to increase enforcement of mortgage and home purchase settlement requirements. Enhanced enforcement will create an environment in which home-buyers will be served with mortgage terms that are more easily understood and reliably honored by lenders. [Underline is mine. I think this is very important.]BUILIDNG ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITYFully funds the Community Development Block Grant program. The Budget provides $4.5 billion to ensure that communities continue to invest in and expand economic opportunities for low-income families. Also, modernizes the program through statutory reforms. Through a more effective formula, appropriate incentives and accountability measures, and a new Sustainable Communities Initiative, the Administration will revamp the CDBG program to better target funds to distressed communities and promote sustainable and economically viable communities.Creates a new Choice Neighborhoods Initiative. The Budget includes funds for HUD to support a range of transformative interventions in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty. This new initiative would challenge public, private and nonprofit partners to identify neighborhood interventions that would have the largest return on Federal investments.Creates a new Energy Innovation Fund. The Budget supports creation of an energy-efficient housing market -- including "retrofitting" of older, inefficient housing -- and catalyzes private-sector lending in the residential sector.