Gonzales Weekly Citizen (CFED)
September 12, 2013
Dear Members of the Louisiana Congressional Delegation: The undersigned organizations are local, state, and regional nonprofits, housing authorities, and housing and community developers dedicated to strengthening communities across the State of Louisiana. We work in a range of capacities to develop community infrastructure and help Louisianans find quality, affordable housing and build assets.
We strongly urge you to support S. 1243, the bipartisan Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations bill, which will provide housing, capital investments, and critical services for millions of families - in addition to creating and supporting an estimated 620,000 jobs nationwide. This bill, rather than the House version, H.R.2610, provides the level of funding needed to significantly benefit Louisiana communities and households.
Louisiana is in critical need of the investments supported by HUD funding. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, 75 percent of Louisiana's lowest income households are severely cost burdened, meaning they spend more than half of their income on housing costs. Our state also faces a shortage of 100,403 affordable housing units that are available to extremely low income renters. The Corporation for Enterprise Development's 2013 Assets and Opportunity Scorecard found that Louisiana has the fourth highest rate of high cost mortgages in the country, a rate more than twice the national average.
HUD's programs directly address these challenges, while working to strengthen the middle class and build ladders to opportunity for families across Louisiana. In the last year, HUD programs have injected $751 million into Louisiana communities. This investment has provided critical services and supports for many of our state's most vulnerable citizens. Families who receive direct assistance from HUD earn an average of $12,500, or an average of 19 percent of their area's median income and 65 percent are elderly or disabled.
S. 1243 will fund important programs that are focused on supporting and growing homeownership as the single largest asset of many middle-income families. In the last year alone, HUD helped 1.5 million families get back above water on their mortgages and assisted 1.5 million through the Making Home Affordable Program. HUD's Home Investment Partnership Program (HOME) program has been and continues to be critical for making homes affordable to first-time homebuyers.
In addition to the direct investments in communities, HUD programs leverage significant private investments.
For example, HUD's CDBG program leverages at least three dollars in private funding for every dollar invested in communities by HUD. And HUD estimates that the $75 million it invested in housing counseling in 2010 resulted in $29 billion in measurable economic benefits, a return of nearly $400 for every dollar spent.
These investments in safe, decent, and affordable housing and more vibrant communities improve child wellbeing, enhance educational achievement, improve health, lower crime, and increased employment access and stability.
These benefits result in overall decreased costs for federal, state and local governments in the short and long term.
We hope that we can count on your support of S. 1243 as soon as you return to Washington from the August recess. Our organizations work hard every day to ensure that these funds are well spent and result in maximum economic benefit for our communities.
Sincerely, Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance HOPE (Hope Enterprise Corporation/Hope Credit Union) Louisiana Housing Alliance Louisiana Association of Affordable Housing Providers.