Magazine article Poverty & Race

Is the HOME Program Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing?

Magazine article Poverty & Race

Is the HOME Program Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing?

Article excerpt

The HOME Investment Partnership Program was created in 1990 following findings from Congress that the United States "has not made adequate progress towards the national housing policy goal [to] provide decent, safe, sanitary, and affordable living environments for all Americans." The HOME program became one of the four block grant programs administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HOME is distinguished from the other major block grant program (the Community Development Block Grant program) by its primary focus on homeownership assistance and affordable rental housing development. However, as with other affordable housing development programs, siting of affordable HOME units-particularly low-income family rental housing-has the potential to concentrate low-income housing units in low-opportunity neighborhoods, restricting housing choices and promoting housing segregation. This review attempts to explore the question of whether the HOME program, as currently administered, is achieving HUD's fair housing goals.

Although the HOME program is one of the largest affordable housing programs with an annual appropriation of $1 billion to $1.5 billion, siting and occupancy of these HOME-funded units has rarely come into the spotlight. This report takes up a part of this challenge and attempts to review the program's record, not just in providing housing but also in expanding quality housing opportunities to the low-income families it serves.

One basic way of assessing the fair housing impact of a low-income housing program is to compare project locations with the race and poverty demographics of the neighborhood the development is located in. This is the basis for the HUD "site and neighborhood standards," a version of which is applied to the HOME program. Using this approach, we can assess the locations of HOME low-income rental units.

Like other federally funded lowincome housing programs, HOME rental subsidies have been largely located in neighborhoods that are racially and economically concentrated.

Almost 40% of total occupied housing units in the US are located in areas that have less than 10% of the fami- lies living below poverty level. In comparison, only 25% of the HOME rental units are located in these low poverty areas. Almost 28% of the HOME units are located in areas with greater than 30% family poverty level compared to only 14% of all occupied housing units. …

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