House Financial Services Committee Examines HUD Outcomes Over Department’s 50-Year History
On Oct. 22, the House Financial Services Committee held a hearing entitled, “The Future of Housing in America: 50 Years of HUD and its Impact on Federal Housing Policy,” to review the effectiveness of HUD programs since the Department was established half a century ago.
In his opening statement, Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) said that though HUD has had notable achievements in the past 50 years, poverty is still endemic in America. According to Hensarling, HUD needs not only to provide housing, but to empower recipients to pursue happiness, and proposed that new metrics be established to determine progress, the regulatory burden accompanying HUD programs be eased, and educational opportunity be provided to program recipients to empower them to escape intergenerational poverty.
In her opening statement, Ranking Member Maxine Waters (D-CA) spoke to the effectiveness of the HOME program, saying that it contributes 1.2 million affordable housing units, including almost 500,000 units for first-time homebuyers. She also stated that HUD played a key role in reducing the number of homeless veterans across America by 33 percent and has provided housing assistance to 35 million families in the last 20 years alone. She praised the Neighborhood Stabilization Program in particular, which has infused $7 billion into local communities over the life of the program. Waters spoke to the need for a fully funded HUD, which could more effectively utilize the programs it has in place to address the continued need for affordable housing.
Housing and Insurance Subcommittee Chairman Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) expressed frustration with the continued demand for housing assistance despite the large amount of funding Congress has appropriated to HUD programs since the department’s establishment. He argued that excessive regulation in HUD programs is a disincentive for private sector involvement and said his bill, H.R. 3700, seeks to ease the regulatory burden and increase private sector participation.
Testifying before the Committee was Renee Glover, Founder and Managing Member for The Catalyst Group, LLC; Howard Husock, Vice President of Research and Publications at the Manhattan Institute; Xavier Briggs, Vice President of Economic Opportunity and Assets at The Ford Foundation; and Orlando Cabrera, Counsel at Squire Patton Boggs and former executive director of the Florida Housing Finance Corporation.
The entire panel supported Hensarling’s proposal that HUD expand the Moving to Work program and similar efforts to encourage program recipients to achieve independence from HUD programs. Also, Waters received affirmative responses from the panelists when she asked them if HUD was important in creating credible improvement to housing opportunities through the past 50 years. Waters also asked the panel what percentage of public housing tenants are capable of working. Briggs stated that the majority of public housing tenants are seniors or persons with disabilities. Cabrera emphasized that employment should not be a precondition for receiving housing assistance. He said Congress should establish as a new HUD objective the goal of empowering tenants to seek greater educational attainment and job opportunity.