Feds to Invest $4.25 Billion in Rental Housing

The Obama Administration has announced a plan to invest $4.25 billion of stimulus money to build low-income rental housing.

The move goes against previous housing approaches that favored policies that made it easier for people to own their own homes.

"The idea is to pay for the construction of low-rise rental apartment buildings and town houses, as well as the purchase of foreclosed homes that can be refurbished and rented to low- and moderate-income families at affordable rates.

Analysts say the approach takes a wrecking ball to Bush's heavy emphasis on encouraging homeownership as a way to create national wealth and provide upward mobility for low- and working-class families, especially minorities. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan's recalibration of federal housing policy, they said, shows that the Obama White House has acknowledged that not everyone can or should own a home."

Full Story: President shifts focus to renting, not owning



There's a Better Alternative to Rental

Once again HUD and the White House go down the wrong path on housing affordable to households with modest incomes. Rather than funding more rental housing, the federal government should be funding low-equity cooperatives and mutual housing associations. Low-equity coops are the most successful form of housing in American history. They turn renters into homeowners at the cost of renting and with the mobility renting offers -- without high investment and the risks of conventional homeownership. They were so successful in the 1960s that the feds returned $30 million in mortgage insurance premiums to low-equity cooperatives because there were no defaults.

Unfortunately the real estate industry lobbyists who seem to own both political parties got Nixon to put the nix on low-equity coops with his moratorium on all housing programs. Funding for them has never recovered -- largely due to the real estate industry's disdain for them.

For a clear 2-page summary of what low-equity coops are, how they work, and how they are the most cost-efficient way to provide housing permanently affordable to households of modest incomes, visit http://planningcommunications.com and scroll down to the "Free Affordable Housing Resources" link. This link will get you to this short paper, as well as a slew of other factual, useful resources on affordable housing.

Daniel Lauber, AICP
AICP President 2003-2005, 1992-1994
APA President 1985-1986

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