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Trump’s Budget Blueprint Cuts Close To Home

From youth yearning for the time to have their own place, to older Americans hoping to age in place, the need to have a home is a shared concern of consumers of all ages and locales. It’s where children are raised and memorable moments dwell. It’s also where many people rest, reflect, and shut out the worries of the day.

Right now, the future of our country’s commitment to housing is in jeopardy. In the recently-released White House Budget Blueprint, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will not resemble its former self. While some programs are proposed to become smaller, others are identified for extinction. Fortunately, while the President proposes a budget, Congress must hold hearings that offer opportunities to amend what some would deem indefensible.

The irony is that so many HUD programs and services that have enjoyed longstanding, broad and bi-partisan support across the country are among those proposed to end.

For example, since 1974, HUD’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program has provided local and state officials the flexibility to fund local priorities for services, projects and partnerships. Whether the need was affordable housing, blight removal, community supportive services or a way to leverage capital in redevelopment projects, local concerns have guided how to make the best use of federal funds.

According to the White House Budget Blueprint, CDBG would absorb $3 billion of HUD’s proposed $6.2 billion agency cut. Reactions from municipal leaders and organizations were swift.

“From CDBG block grants, to Community-Oriented Policing Services, the programs targeted for cuts provide support for millions of working Americans and help cities invest in public-good projects like police stations, food banks and domestic violence shelters,” said Matt Zone, a Cleveland city councilmember and president of the National League of Cities (NCL), an organization that advocates for 19,000 cities, towns, and villages. “These unprecedented cuts would be devastating to all our nation’s cities—with the worst impacts felt in small towns and rural communities.”

Yana Miles, a policy counsel with the Center for Responsible Lending noted that, “In housing, the proposed budget would end some of HUD’s most successful programs that help underserved communities including: Community Development Block Grants, the HOME Investment Partnerships, and Choice Neighborhoods.”

Two of the HUD programs that Miles cites are the focus of another proposed $1.1 billion in cuts: Choice Neighborhoods and the HOME Investment partnerships program.

The Choice Neighborhoods program provides funding and technical assistance to support local community efforts to improve struggling neighborhoods dotted with distressed public or HUD-assisted housing. Like CDBG, eligibility is formula-based and requires a formal revitalization strategy or Transformational Plan.

This past December, HUD announced that from 34 competitive applications, five cities were selected to receive grants totaling $132 million: Boston, Camden, Denver, Louisville, and St. Louis. An estimated 1,853 units of severely distressed public housing will be replaced by nearly 3,700 new, mixed-income, mixed-use housing units as part of an overall effort to revitalize neighborhoods

For every $1 in Choice Neighborhoods funding, awardees and their partners typically leverage for their projects an additional $5 in public and private funding. Together, the five cities are expected to leverage $636 million through other public/private sources and expect to stimulate another $3.3 billion indirectly to magnify their impact.

The HOME Investment Partnerships program focuses exclusively on creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income families. Until now, it has also been the single largest block grant dedicated to expanding this housing sector. Formula grants for states and local communities are often awarded in partnership with local nonprofit organizations to build, buy, and/or rehabilitate affordable housing for either rent or homeownership.

For the nation’s 1.2 million families who live in public housing, the proposed budget blueprint will take $1.3 million from facility improvements, and another $600 million in operational costs.

These and other severe funding cuts proposed are the exact opposite of what Dr. Carson testified to during his confirmation hearings. On January 12, before the Senate’s Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, he said, “[I]t’s difficult for a child to learn at school if he or she doesn’t have an adequate place to live. In these situations, government can and should help. However, I believe we need to ensure that the help we provide families is efficient and effective.”

By his own admission, Secretary Carson has never worked in government before. Now as the head of a key cabinet agency, he and his senior staff would be well-served by learning which programs work well and should be preserved from heavy-handed budget cuts.

Since post-World War II, FHA-backed mortgage loans have provided funding for millions of Americans. With down payments as low as 3.5 percent, families who cannot afford a large down payment for a conventional loan, can make that important transition from renter to homeowner. In recent years, FHA-backed loans are the most used by Black and Latino consumers.

HUD’s history of service has many more examples of how modest public investments have and can continue to leverage larger private funds. The programs that fostered this success deserve to be supported and funded at levels that will continue to benefit the nation.

Charlene Crowell is communications deputy director for the Center for Responsible Lending. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Congresswoman Waters Slams Trump’s “Wiretap Meltdown”

Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Ranking Member of the Financial Services Committee, released the following statement in response to President Donald Trump’s unfounded claims that President Obama wiretapped his phones:

“The American public and press must not be distracted by yet another sideshow stunt orchestrated by a President who is unraveling at the seams. Do not be misled. Donald Trump is a compulsive liar who will say and do anything to distract from the very serious questions about his associates' and campaign's ties to Russia. Despite his efforts to stonewall and obstruct credible investigations, Donald Trump's lies are being exposed and each passing day brings new revelations to light.

“For months, Donald Trump has claimed that his campaign and associates had no connections to Russia. And yet, we now know that several key individuals in his inner circle were in communication with Russian operatives and subsequently tried to obscure those meetings. Why would Jeff Sessions, Carter Page, and Mike Flynn conceal their meetings with the Russian Ambassador during a time when the intelligence community was warning US officials that Russians were interfering in our elections? Why would Jared Kushner then hide his meeting with Mike Flynn and the Russian Ambassador during the transition? Why did Donald Trump deny the intelligence community’s report on the Russian interference in the 2016 election, insult federal agents, and instead side with the Kremlin in denouncing what intelligence officials concluded about the Russian cyberattacks? Why has President Trump at every juncture shown more deference to the Kremlin than the American analysts and agents who serve and fight to protect this country every day? In my estimation, it is because Donald Trump has something to hide and doesn't want the American people to know the truth.

“Despite his outlandish accusations against President Obama, the fact of the matter is an American President cannot unilaterally authorize a wiretap on anyone. For President Trump to ask for a congressional investigation based on his ridiculous claims is shameful and just another attempt to deflect attention from his ‘Kremlin Klan” and the investigations into his campaign’s ties to Russia.

“Shame on this President and anyone around him who fuels and enables his lies and vitriol. The question now is for Republicans of conscience in the House and Senate. How long will they let this unhinged man wreak havoc on our democracy? That's not hyperbole. That is the stated objective of Trump’s closest advisor, Steve Bannon. Steve Bannon wants to break our system and I stand ready to fight him and Trump every step of the way.”

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Aguilar Condemns Trump’s Latest Attack on Immigrant Community

Washington, D.C.— Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-San Bernardino) condemned President Trump’s anti-immigrant executive order to ban all refugees and ban travelers from six Muslim-majority nations from entering the United States, which is only the president’s latest attack on the immigrant community.

“This new Muslim ban still would not have prevented the deadly terror attack in San Bernardino, nor would it have prevented any other domestic act of terror. Rather than focus on issues of national security that would make our country safer – like tracking and interrupting lone wolves who self-radicalize or dismantling how terrorists communicate on social media platforms – President Trump prefers demonizing refugees who have fled unspeakable violence,” said Rep. Aguilar. He continued, “We cannot ignore that Donald Trump campaigned on and is now governing on an anti-immigrant platform. This new ban comes on the heels of numerous stories of Dreamers being arrested and detained unlawfully. This is the wrong approach to strengthening our national security, and will make our defense weaker, not stronger.”

Rep. Aguilar has been a vocal critic of President Trump’s anti-immigrant priorities. The president’s first executive order targeting refugees was ruled unconstitutional by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Rep. Aguilar remains committed to fighting to protect the immigrant community and working toward a bipartisan solution to solve the United States’ broader immigration crisis.

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