Nonprofit Newswire | Are HUD Rules Too Restrictive? Or Is This CDC Off Topic?

September 8, 2010; Source: Post-Standard | In Syracuse, N.Y., a nonprofit community development group—and a member of the NeighborWorks network—contends that federal housing program rules are too restrictive. The CEO of Home HeadQuarters Inc., Kerry Quaglia, calls for changes in the HUD’s HOME program that if left unchanged, would’ve prevented one of the organization’s clients—an “urban pioneer” who restored an old home to its “Victorian glory”—from benefiting from the federal resources.

Quaglia notes that HOME’s regulations would have prevented this pioneer from acquiring the property unless he met low-income standards. In fact, because the pioneer had $60,000 of his own money to put into the project, he would have failed to even qualify. According to the nonprofit CEO, “Guidelines generally stipulate that participants be exclusively low-income, thus preventing teachers, firefighters and young entrepreneurs from taking part in neighborhood revitalization.”

Quaglia is concerned with the development of 1,600 vacant properties in Syracuse. “Given these costs and the magnitude of the problem,” he says, “it’s time for government to loosen restrictions on housing dollars and create programs that encourage innovation, allow for tailoring to local needs and maximize the potential for transformative neighborhood revitalization.”

Loosened regulations might create more options for cities and their nonprofit partners. That’s true. But how then will the housing needs of lower income households be met if resources are diverted to higher income home rehabbers?—Rick Cohen

  • GJM

    Affordable housing for low-income households and neighborhood revitalization are two worthy goals. But they are different goals that require different tools. Healthy neighborhoods require a mix of incomes. If middle-income families are barred from participating in federally funded neighborhood revitalization efforts, then lifting neighborhoods — and the families that live in them — out of poverty will be difficult. So loosening the restrictions on these dollars, or creating new programs specifically for revitalization, benefits everyone.

  • rick cohen

    Dear GJM: Thanks for the comment. You’ve hit an important point in public policy. Rarely do we have policies that are narrowly, singularly focused with one input to achieve one goal. Not only do we have often complex programs with multiple goals mixed in, sometimes not all that compatibly, but in our attempts to affect “systems” such as housing, policies meant to have specific intended consequences often have unintended consequences as well. That is a constant piece of NPQ’s awareness of public policies affecting the nonprofit sector. All told, it’s not simple and easy. Thanks for weighing in on this topic.