In the wake of a recent interdepartmental fight over the revamping of housing subsidy programs and welfare reform, Housing and Urban Development undersecretary Jay Janis recently stressed the need to assist residents of substandard housing "whose needs cannot be met by the private market without some form of subsidy."
Speaking to black real estate brokers meeting in Atlanta, Janis said, "The needs of these families must be addressed by active, ongoing housing assistance programs, not by fits and starts as it has been for the last eight years but at predictable, non-cyclical levels. It is folly to expect much from an industry (housing) that is, at first, persuaded to gear up to produce subsidized housing and then is told that the programs may be stopped."
The Janis defense of federal housing subsidies was voiced at a convention of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers, shortly after President Carter announced details of his proposed welfare reform.
That suggested reform did not include a proposal to transfer housing subsidy funds to help any enlarged welfare costs. Earlier, there were reports that the Department of Health, Education and Welfare had proposed shifting housing funds from HUD construction and rent supplement programs to a general welfare payment fund that would aid persons unable to pay for decent housing while lessening welfare payments of persons living in subsidized housing.
While the program was not proposed, there is still a feeling that the idea might resurface next year in Carter welfare proposals.
In speaking to the primarily black "realtists" at their Atlanta convention, Janis made no reference to the welfare controversy but he did point out that "builders of low and moderate income housing cannot be turned on and off like a faucet. They simply won't be there the next time we need them."
Noting that 5 million Americans live in substandard housing and pay a greater percentage of their incomes for housing than do more affluent citizens, Janis said that, "from the point of view of national housing policy, we have made a deliberate choice on housing policy to emphasize supply programs to meet household growth requirements, replacing unusable housing a providing a sizable number of units for poor families directly."