Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Martinez Discusses Bush's Plans for HUD

Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Martinez Discusses Bush's Plans for HUD

Article excerpt

Cabinet Members Discuss Cities, New Administration

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez carried the Bush Administration's commitment to building communities and improving housing opportunities for Americans in need to delegates at a general session during the Congressional City Conference.

HUD will see a 7 percent budget increase--nearly $2 billion--this year, the secretary said.

All Section 8 vouchers, which help low-income families find decent housing, will be renewed, and 34,000 additional ones will be issued.

The Home Improvement Partnership Program, which allows local governments to design and implement strategies to address affordable housing, and the Community Development Block Grant are among programs that will be fully funded, he said.

"These grants are the building blocks that empower local governments with the tools for neighborhood revitalization and economic development," Martinez said.

The recently announced tax relief proposal will help families save for a downpayment on a home.

"I believe the key to community renewal is homeownership," he said. "If you help a family buy a home, you are helping to make better citizens."

While homeownership rates are at an all-time high, the rates for African-American and Hispanic families are below 50 percent.

The Bush Administration wants to set aside funds for an American Dream downpayment fund to help 130,000 families overcome this greatest obstacle to homeownership. The plan will provide $200 million to match funds from third-party lenders.

"Home ownership is not just about putting a roof over someone's head, it is about transforming lives," Martinez said.

To move people into homeownership, affordable housing must be available. Thus, President Bush has introduced an investor-based tax credit plan to encourage developers and nonprofit organizations to build new affordable single-family homes and rehabilitate existing ones. …

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