The Official Online Newspaper of NAHB
Reports in the Washington Post on May 15-16 depicted a “million-dollar wasteland” of failed or uncompleted housing projects under the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s HOME Investment Partnership Program affordable housing initiative, according to NAHB leaders and builders who have participated in the program.
“The vast majority of the multifamily and single-family homes built under this program are great projects that have enabled working families to rent or own a home at a price they can afford. This achievement is entirely neglected in your coverage,” NAHB Chairman Bob Nielsen said in a letter to the newspaper’s editor.
HOME is the largest federal block grant for affordable housing available to state and local governments, disbursing about $2 billion a year.
By requiring that participating jurisdictions match 25 cents for every grant dollar, HOME is able to prime the pump for other community resources to house low-income families — stretching scarce funding money.
“Building affordable housing is a complex undertaking even under the best of circumstances, and it requires experience and financial expertise to get the job done,” Nielsen said.
“There are private builders across this country who know how to work successfully with non-profits and use HOME funding to provide communities with housing that is a source of pride for everyone involved,” he said.
NAHB and 40 other stakeholders in the affordable housing community wrote to the chair and ranking member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies urging their support for the program.
“The reality is that HOME has successfully and cost-effectively produced more than 1 million affordable homes for ownership and rental, as well as made additional homes affordable for tens of thousands of families with rental assistance,” they said in their letter.
“HOME uniquely empowers states and localities to respond to the housing needs they judge most pressing,” the letter said.
NAHB also sent a letter to the House Financial Services Committee ahead of its June 3 hearing to express support for HOME and commending the legislators for examining oversight issues.
The letter noted that many NAHB members use HOME in conjunction with the Low Income Housing Tax Credit and other financing sources to build affordable single-family homes for first-time buyers, special-needs housing and housing for low- and moderate-income senior citizens.
“This program is vital — it’s crucial to providing affordable housing for low-income families. Many tax credit developments could not be financed without receiving HOME funds,” said Dan Markson, senior vice president for development at the NRP Group Inc. in San Antonio.
Markson has been involved in the development and construction of more than 10,000 affordable homes using HOME funding.
NAHB members build HOME-funded housing all over the country, from large multifamily projects to smaller developments of single-family homes, often partnering with non-profit organizations.
Among the examples:
- In Reno, Nev., $1.5 million in HOME funds leveraged with other federal and local grants provided new homes for 43 families at Autumn Village Apartments. Completed in 12 months, this three-story elevator residence has 21 one-bedroom and 22 two-bedroom, accessible/adaptable apartments with balconies, including nine units designed to house individuals and families at risk of homelessness.
Each unit is energy-efficient, the project carries an Energy Star rating and the grounds include native landscaping to conserve water.
- In Lawrence, Mass., the Volunteers of America paired the redevelopment of a 118-year-old commercial building with new construction to provide 46 apartments and 4,200 square feet of ground floor retail space.
Residential units include 36 two-bedroom and 10 one-bedroom apartments. The $14 million project took 18 months to complete and opened in February 2008.
Developers credit the HOME program for enabling the project to break ground, with the city providing a $1.5 million loan from HOME funds that provided critical leverage for receiving other funds.
“We need affordable housing most in the urban core, in rural areas and small cities that aren’t seeing booms,” Markson said. “The HOME program is an important tool that enables developers to address this need.”
For more information, email Claudia Kedda at NAHB, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8352.