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