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Frequently Asked Questions about the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

What Does the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Do?

HUD has a record of accomplishments that spans more than 30 years and seven Presidents. Thousands of communities and tens of millions of Americans have benefited from HUD's community development and housing programs.

For instance:

What Is "Assisted" Housing?

HUD "assists" low-income households with rental subsidies in the private sector, primarily through Section 8 certificates and vouchers, through the Office of Public and Indian Housing. Families seeking assistance apply through their local public housing agency.

Under the voucher program, tenants have greater freedom of choice to select housing where they want to live within a standard rent range.

Under the Section 8 certificate program, rent subsidies are used to pay owners the difference between what tenants can pay and contract rents.

Public and Indian Housing (PIH) provides funds for the rental voucher, certificate and Moderate Rehabilitation programs that are managed by local public housing agencies (PHAs) created by state law and administered by local governments.

Overall, more than 3 million households received Section 8 rental assistance in FY 1996.

Congress appropriated about $400 million primarily for relocation assistance in the form of Section 8 certificates and vouchers in FY 1996. It also provided $830 million for Section 202 housing grants and subsidies for elderly, and $258 million for grants and subsidies for Section 811 housing for the disabled.

The program goes beyond providing certificates and vouchers to individuals; it also renews Section 8 contracts with private owners. This is needed in order to maintain a sufficient housing stock nationwide to serve low-income families. While HUD tries to reduce the cost of contract renewals and shorten their tenure, budget authority was expected to reach $3.6 billion for 306,058 units in FY 1996 and grow substantially after that.

HUD also administers a Housing Counseling Program with $12 million in FY 1996 to assist tenants and homeowners in property maintenance, financial management and other matters.

How Does Public Housing Work?

Public housing programs provide direct payments to Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) and Indian Housing Authorities (IHAs) to develop and operate housing for low-income families. HUD's Public Housing programs are administered by the Assistant Secretary for Public and Indian Housing (PIH).

HUD distributed more than $6.2 billion in FY 1996 to approximately 3,350 Public and Indian housing authorities that provided public housing and services to 1.3 million households.

Existing programs and their FY 1996 funding levels (in parenthesis) are:

How Do the Homeless Get Help From HUD?

HUD provides funds to state and local governments and to nonprofit organizations to assist homeless individuals and families. The funds are used in a "continuum of care" to help the homeless move from the streets, to temporary shelter, to supportive housing (with services, if necessary), and ultimately back to the mainstream of American life. The Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development administers most of HUD's homeless assistance programs.

HUD's homeless efforts began on a national level with the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act of 1987, which provided the first direct HUD program to help communities deal with homelessness. More than $4.8 billion has been provided and more than 2 million homeless Americans have been assisted by these programs through FY 1996.

In addition, since the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program was begun in 1992 through the end of 1996, almost $646 million has been appropriated for housing assistance and related supportive services. This program provides benefits for over 58,000 low-income persons who are living with HIV or AIDS and their families during a one-year period. HUD distributed $823 million for homelessness assistance and $171 million under HOPWA to eligible recipients in FY 1996.

CPD has administered the following homelessness assistance programs:

How Do HUD's Fair Housing Programs Work?

Federal Fair Housing statutes prohibit housing discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, religion, families with children, and disabilities.

HUD's programs to prevent housing discrimination through public education and enforcement are administered by the Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO).

In addition to investigating and resolving housing discrimination complaints under the Fair Housing Laws, FHEO conducts compliance reviews of HUD funds recipients, ensures equal employment opportunity and affirmative action within HUD and ensures that HUD programs provide equal opportunity.

Under its Fair Housing Assistance Program (FHAP), FHEO assists state and local governments in becoming certified -- having "substantially equivalent" fair housing laws -- and processing complaints with technical assistance and training grants. FHEO provided about $13.0 million in funds to the FHAP participants in FY 1996.

FHEO received $17 million in FY 1996 for its Fair Housing Initiatives Program (FHIP) to fund public agencies with substantially equivalent fair housing laws and private nonprofit organizations. These public and private organizations assist HUD in enforcement activities such as testing, investigations and complaint resolution. FHEO refers complaints arising in certified jurisdictions to those government agencies for investigation and prosecution.

FHIP also funds public education and outreach programs conducted by the fair housing organizations to make the public aware of what constitutes discrimination and promote voluntary compliance in the housing industry.

FHEO and the State and local Fair Housing Enforcement agencies received 10,915 new housing discrimination cases, closed 11,516 cases and obtained $9,092,685 in compensation (HUD ALJ and DOJ results not included), and obtained 'housing relief' in 623 cases in FY 1996.

Are Any HUD Housing Programs Available for Persons Who Are Not Very Low Income?

FHA assists first-time buyers and others who might not be able to meet down payment requirements for conventional loans by providing mortgage insurance to private lenders. It also insures loans for home improvements and buying manufactured (mobile) homes.

This is done through the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), a branch of HUD which works through local mortgage lending institutions to provide Federal mortgage and loan insurance for homeownership and the construction or improvement of affordable housing.

There are approximately 10 mortgage insurance and loan programs administered by the Assistant Secretary for Housing-Federal Housing Commissioner. As of October 1, 1996, FHA has insurance in force on 6.5 million single-family dwellings, totaling $401 billion. Most of these loans are insured by the Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund. MMI is designed to be a self-sustaining fund requiring no annual appropriations.

Interest rates on FHA loans are generally market rates, while down payment requirements are lower than those for conventional loans. FHA loans cannot exceed the statutory limit.

When buyers become seriously delinquent on their loans, their mortgage companies usually foreclose and file insurance claims with HUD for the amount still owed on the loan. HUD pays the claim and becomes the owner of the property. The HUD Property Disposition staff across the nation and its contractors maintain and market these properties.

FHA also assists in providing affordable rental housing by insuring loans to developers and builders who construct or rehabilitate apartments and other multi-family housing developments.

FHA had insurance in force estimated at $48.6 billion on 15,935 multi-family developments with 2 million units as of September 30, 1996.

About the Department of Housing and Urban Development

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