HUD priorities 2015

GSE reform, public housing finance privatization and solving veteran homelessness are key items on HUD Secretary Julian Castro’s agenda.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will likely take action to advance housing finance reform and open public housing to private funding in 2015.

In his year-end message, HUD Secretary Julian Castro stated, “HUD will push to implement a number of existing programmatic, legislative and regulatory proposals to create efficiencies, streamline processes and save taxpayer dollars.”

One of these priorities for HUD is GSE reform. “HUD and the Administration welcome bipartisan legislation (The Housing Finance Reform and Taxpayer Protection Act (S. 1217)) that will reduce the exposure of taxpayers and risk to the nation’s mortgage finance system while helping responsible citizens to access the American Dream,” said Castro’s statement.

Regarding public housing, Castro stated that the Administration’s ultimate goal is to have the cap on the number of public housing units participating in HUD’s Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program eliminated. The billions of dollars of private investment that are made available, he said, “can be used to renovate and revitalize public housing.”

RAD allows public housing to leverage private funding to meet capital improvements needs. Congress recently raised the limit on the number of participating units under the program from 60,000 to 185,000. Public housing authorities have submitted 187,000 units for the demonstration, says HUD.

“We call HUD the Department of Opportunity because its mission to both provide housing assistance and revitalize communities by laying a strong foundation for millions of Americans to achieve their dreams,” Castro stated. “The Department has made significant strides on critical Obama Administration priorities while bringing renewed focus on HUD as a smarter, more efficient agency that focuses on enhancing opportunity for hard-working Americans.”

Among HUD’s achievements in 2014 is the launch of a new place-based initiative to strengthen the middle class, create jobs and engage local leaders in a holistic fashion to advance opportunity in cities across America. In 2014, HUD named seven new locations to receive technical advice and expertise through the Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) initiative and it oversaw the opening of the competition for a second round of Promise Zone designations.

Castro said that HUD will continue to pursue “internal reforms to improve employee morale and performance.”

“Since September, HUD’s senior leadership has held three meetings designed to enhance transparency, refine policy and operational priorities, raise standards and emphasize accountability so that every employee is able to succeed in the true spirit of public service. We expect this internal transformation to accelerate in the coming year with the confirmation of Nani Coloretti as HUD’s new Deputy Secretary.”

Castro stated, “on the policy side, we know that we are operating in a time of limited budgets and legislative challenges. We need to be smarter and more creative than ever before. We will see through our commitment to end veteran homelessness and increase Promise Zones as well as explore some new ideas including expanded broadband access.”

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