HUD aims to help black homeowners
Housing Secretary Marcia Fudge plans a new effort to tackle housing discrimination, which includes a $ 100 million initiative to boost black home ownership in areas historically closed to minorities, said administration officials briefed on the plan.
The pilot program, which is part of President Biden’s $ 6 trillion budget request to be released Friday, would pay for an increase in down payments from Federal Housing Administration loan recipients, giving borrowers a comparable instant stake. to that of their more affluent and white neighbors. owners.
The increase in down payments, up to 10% from around 3%, may not seem like a major change, but recent studies have shown that even that little push is often the difference between a marginal homeowner succeeding or failing to keep up with mortgage payments.
Houses are the main source of wealth for black families, and homeownership rates have declined in recent years despite rising incomes.
The housing agency’s plan, written by administration officials hired from the Urban Institute, a Washington-based political think tank that is quietly emerging as a major player in Biden’s White House, is said to target neighborhoods “Redlining” that have been subject to biased local zoning laws or discrimination by banks, officials said.
The administration sees this effort as part of a larger effort to combat the persistence of racial discrimination in housing. Ms Fudge has previously signaled plans to renew an Obama-era program to reverse segregation in the suburbs while taking steps to strengthen enforcement of existing fair housing laws.
And the ministry’s beleaguered fair housing division will see a funding increase of about 20% under Mr Biden’s budget, allowing the hiring of about 150 new employees, according to the agency’s planning documents.
This is a 180 degree change. Ms Fudge’s predecessor, Ben Carson, overturned the enforcement of fair housing laws and backed former President Donald J. Trump’s claim during the 2020 campaign that democratic attempts to integrate Segregated neighborhoods were a war against white commuters.
Ms Fudge, a former congressman from Ohio, is also chairing one of the most important reboots, in terms of funding, of any government agency.
President Biden asks an increase of $ 9 billion in the Department of Housing and Urban Development budget, the largest annual increase in agency funding in more than two decades. This 15 percent increase comes on top of the $ 27.4 billion in new assistance included in the pandemic relief bill passed earlier this year, which is administered by the Treasury Department.
Ms Fudge’s top funding priority, according to two officials who briefed her during the transition, was an increase in rent assistance – vouchers that can be used by tenants to bridge the gap between their income and their income. rents at market rates.
The budget released on Friday includes 200,000 additional vouchers in addition to the 2.3 million families already receiving aid. That alone would represent a $ 5.4 billion increase in the agency’s annual budget.