The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s 2013 budget offers a glimpse of nearly $5 billion the agency estimates would be slated for a program to help clean up the wreckage of the housing crisis — only Congress has yet to give it a stamp of approval.
Project Rebuild, an effort to help local governments rehabilitate, redevelop or demolish vacant properties left behind by the housing crisis, was announced in September as part of President Obama’s proposed American Jobs Act. Modeled on the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, it is part of the administration’s broader efforts to keep struggling borrowers in their homes, create jobs in hard-hit communities and revitalize areas ravaged by foreclosures.
The agency estimates that, if enacted by Congress, Project Rebuild would help support nearly 200,000 jobs and deal with at least 150,000 distressed properties across the country. According to the blueprint released Monday, HUD projected that it would spend $4.65 billion on the program in fiscal year 2013. That money would come not out of the agency’s discretionary money, but rather mandatory funds set aside as part of the Congressional appropriations.
Of course, the numbers are mostly a moot point. Congress has given few signs so far that it is willing to pass Project Rebuild or most of the rest of the president’s proposed jobs initiatives. But it does highlight the substantial funding the administration would prefer do toward helping communities recover from the housing crash.
The 2013 budget proposal provides HUD overall with $44.8 billion, an increase of 3.2 percent above its 2012 funding levels. It includes $34.8 billion to preserve rental housing assistance to nearly 5 million low-income families. For instance, the proposal increases aid to the elderly and the homeless, including vouchers for homeless veterans that would be paired with health care and other services from the Department of Veterans Affairs. It also requests more than $700 million for housing program to benefit Native American tribes.
The agency also faces cuts to existing programs. For instance, funding would decrease slightly for housing programs aimed at people with disabilities and for those with AIDS. The agency also said it would reform its rental assistance programs and increase the minimum rent for HUD-assisted households, a move expected to save millions in costs.