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Latest on the HOME program: HUD highlights efforts, GAO studies performance, Congress continues oversight

by Ethan Handelman, National Housing Conference

HOME is a proven building block of affordable housing and community development—a workhorse program that has produced more than 1 million affordable homes. Recent activity in Washington to strengthen the program and remind policymakers of its value are beginning to bear fruit, as demonstrated by several new developments:

1. HUD’s May 2012 program update on HOME outlines steps the agency has taken to improve oversight of grantees, require certification that grantees have fulfilled key underwriting and other requirements, and provide better monitoring of progress. HUD’s update also consolidates key facts about the program for easy reference.

2. GAO report finds positive contributions from HOME and CDBG activities. The May 15 report titled “HUD Has Identified Performance Measures for Its Block Grant Programs, but Information on Impact Is Limited” takes the Government Accountability Office’s usual cautious approach in evaluating program results, but is generally positive on both block grant programs.

3. House Financial Services discusses subpoena again. In a joint hearing by the Subcommitttess on Oversight and Investigations, and Insurance, Housing and Community Opportunity, members of Congress again pushed HUD to release documents related to its oversight of HOME. The Committee stopped short of issuing a subpoena. The hearing focused specifically on HUD’s document production, unlike past hearings on the program itself (see NHC’s testimony at last year’s hearing).

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