Former HUD Secretaries Cisneros and Kemp Call for New Strategies for Urban Housing

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Former HUD Secretaries Cisneros and Kemp Call for New Strategies for Urban Housing
Posted on : 2007-06-19 | Author : Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University

WASHINGTON, June 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Communities seeking permanent solutions to long-term housing problems must adopt a comprehensive approach that encompasses the full spectrum of housing needs and encourages cooperation among the various public and private agencies responsible for housing programs, according to a bipartisan group that will soon release a book on the subject – “Our Communities, Our Homes: Pathways to Housing and Homeownership in America’s Cities and States.”

The leaders of the group, former U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) secretaries Henry Cisneros and Jack Kemp and scholars Kent W. Colton and Nicolas P. Retsinas of Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, discussed the forthcoming book in detail today at the National Press Club.

The book is based on an examination of successful housing programs in U.S. cities. Among the book’s key findings is that the most effective programs look at the housing continuum – supportive housing, public housing, rental housing and for-sale homes – as parts of a whole rather than separate, unrelated programs. Such a holistic approach, the book says, takes into account how shortages in one area can negatively impact other areas.

While each city approached its housing problems differently based on local needs, the book says successful programs should all include:

— Leadership commitment to clear goals and a deadline; — A meaningful game plan based on hard data and guided input; — The pledge of a reliable revenue stream; — Partners organized to act in concert, and — A bias for action and an eye for opportunity.

The book cites specific actions and tools that local and state governments can take toward achieving such important goals as reducing chronic homelessness, preserving affordable rental homes, and boosting sustainable homeownership.

“Leadership commitment, intra-agency cooperation, and community input, along with a will to act, are absolutely essential for solving our housing problems,” said Henry Cisneros. “Each city had unique problems and opportunities, but their strategies to solving their existing problems were remarkably similar.”

Jack Kemp said, “‘Our Communities, Our Homes: Pathways to Housing and Homeownership in America’s Cities and States’ provides a blueprint for other communities to follow. Our cities can build bridges that help create opportunities for home ownership and wealth creation at all income levels.”

Nicolas P. Retsinas said, “We hope that this book will change the way people think about housing and solving housing problems. The lessons learned can be scaled to communities of all sizes and produce the same results.

Decent and affordable housing can transform families, communities and our entire nation.”

“With the general slow down in the housing market, there is an opportunity – at least in some communities – for cities and housing market participants to focus on achieving a better match between housing supply and buyer affordability. The recommendations in this book should provide a framework to proceed, whether there is a market slow down like now, or when the market becomes more robust,” Kent Colton added.

“Our Communities, Our Homes: Pathways to Housing and Homeownership in America’s Cities and States,” published by Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, will be available later this summer through the Center.

In 2004 these authors published “Opportunity and Progress: a Bipartisan Platform for National Housing Policy.”

Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University