Advancing Fair Housing, Administering Trust Fund and Ending Veteran Homelessness Among HUD Achievements
As he prepares to leave his position as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Julian Castro released on January 5, 2017, “A Memo to the American People”, his cabinet exit memo.
President elect Donald Trump has nominated Dr. Ben Carson as the next HUD Secretary and, to date, Carson awaits Senate confirmation.
The memo provides an overview of HUD’s achievements over the last 8 years of President Obama’s administration.
- One achievement worth highlighting is the administration’s commitment to and elevation of fair housing. Writes Castro, “And we finally fulfilled the full obligation of the 1968 Fair Housing Act by putting into practice the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule to ensure that one day a child’s zip code won’t determine his or her future.”
- Another key issue was the beginning of the administration of the National Housing Trust Fund. “This resource is designed to help states across the country produce more critically needed affordable housing. The Housing Trust Fund’s first grants, totaling more than $173 million in 2016, will play an important role in creating and preserving the supply of decent, safe and affordable rental housing.”
- Rental assistance was expanded. “We must also encourage greater mobility to safe neighborhoods with decent schools … In most locations, housing vouchers are the most effective form of housing assistance to give families access to safer, lower-poverty neighborhoods. To that end, we expanded housing choice for low-income families by providing additional rental assistance that allows them to move to areas of greater opportunity with higher paying jobs, better performing schools and access to transit.
- The memo summarizes HUD’s role in preventing and ending homelessness in the United States. “Through the President’s Opening Doors plan, the first-ever federal strategy to prevent and end homelessness, HUD and our partners have made historic progress toward ambitious goals. Since 2010, when the plan was launched, overall homelessness has dropped by 14 percent. Homelessness among veterans is down by nearly half. Family homelessness and chronic homelessness have each been cut by roughly one-fourth. Key to this progress is the unprecedented interagency collaboration that HUD and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness have fostered and we strongly recommend continue.
- In New Jersey, Bergen and Middlesex Counties have effectively ended veteran homelessness. “The First Lady’s Mayors’ Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness inspired more than 850 elected officials to lead local efforts, leading to 36 communities and three states that have so far achieved the goal, with many more positioned to follow.
- Congress also made the necessary investments in housing vouchers for veterans, dedicating hundreds of millions toward the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program. This commitment to veterans and collaborating to provide resources is truly an example of how Washington can and should work.
“Remarkably, even without commensurate resources, the number of families, children and individuals experiencing chronic homelessness is also down significantly as a result of this work. And for the first time, we have a much clearer understanding of what we need to do for young people who are homeless, up to 40 percent of whom are LGBTQ – lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer.”