House Committee Approves Housing Bills

May 22, 2003

The House Committee on Financial Services approved three housing bills today by voice vote:

H.R. 23, the Tornado Shelters Act: The Tornado Shelters Act was introduced by Rep. Spencer Bachus (AL) on Jan. 7 to allow cities and counties to use Community Development Block Grant funds to build tornado-safe shelters in manufactured housing communities. The bill was approved without amendment.

H.R. 1276, the American Dream Downpayment Act: H.R. 1276 was introduced by Rep. Katherine Harris (FL) on March 13. The bipartisan bill would provide $200 million in grant funds for low-income, first-time homebuyers across the U.S.

The grants would be distributed through HUD's HOME program. HOME is a valuable program with a proven track record in providing state and local governments with grants. HUD estimates that the $200 million would assist approximately 40,000 low-income families with downpayment and closing costs on their homes.

An amendment offered by Rep. Nydia M. Velazquez (NY) ensures that every effort will be made to determine the suitability of a downpayment assistance recipient to qualify for and maintain homeownership. It was approved by voice vote.

An amendment offered by Rep. Michael E. Capuano (MA) makes municipal employees, such as police, firefighters and teachers, eligible for downpayment assistance. It was approved by voice vote.

H.R. 1614, the HOPE VI Program Reauthorization and Small Community Mainstreet Rejuvenation and Housing Act: H.R. 1614 was introduced by Rep. James A. Leach (IA) on April 3 to provide public housing authorities with incentives to form partnerships and create mixed-income affordable housing. Among other things, the program funds the demolition and revitalization of run-down public housing units.

The bipartisan bill would reauthorize the HOPE VI program and open the funds, which are aimed at urban housing developments, to smaller communities to provide affordable housing and to renovate declining historic Mainstreet and town square areas. The bill was approved without amendment.

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