If the Republicans achieve their budget goals what will HUD’s budget be? Will it be a positive number? HUD anticipates this challenge and is launching a pinch of a PR campaign. Now, the RBC is reality based — what is your verdict for HUD? If you were named its Secretary what would you focus your scarce budget on? Below, I offer a few thoughts.
According to this “expert source”
HUD’s major program offices are:
- Community Planning and Development: Many major affordable housing and homelessness programs are administered under Community Planning and Development. These include the Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), the HOME program, Shelter Plus Care, Emergency Shelter Grants (ESG), Section 8 Moderate Rehabilitation Single Room Occupancy program (Mod Rehab SRO), and Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA).
- Housing: This office is responsible for the Federal Housing Administration; mission regulation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; regulation of Manufactured housing; administration of Multifamily housing programs, including Supportive Housing for the Elderly (Section 202) and Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities (Section 811); and Healthcare facility loan insurance.
- Public and Indian Housing: This office administers the public housing program HOPE VI, the Housing Choice Voucher Program (formerly – yet more popularly – known as Section 8), and housing block grants for Indian tribes, Native Hawaiians and Alaskans.
- Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity: This office enforces Federal laws against discrimination against minority households, families with children, and persons with disability.
- Policy Development and Research (PD&R): This office is responsible for maintaining current information on housing needs, market conditions, and existing programs, as well as conducting research on priority housing and community development issues through the HUD USER Clearinghouse.
- Government National Mortgage Association (Ginnie Mae)
- Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control.
- Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing (developed in 1998)
As a nerd, I would encourage HUD to invest a lot more in PDR. Building on the Move to Opportunity experiments, HUD should be running many field experiments in which households are randomly assigned to treatment and then outcomes are tracked over time. What could be randomized? It could be the size of housing vouchers, it could be acceptance to elite charter schools, it could be free multi-family apartment energy audits to encourage property owners to retrofit their buildings. It could be a “cash for clunkers” in apartments to encourage renters to upgrade their appliances.
HUD could also use GIS mapping techniques and micro data on real estate prices by neighborhood to track the rise and fall of neighborhoods over time and across cities. Such a public data set would be crucial for developers and investors to know where opportunities are arising and for Mayors to see whether gentrification is taking place. If a given geographical area is becoming a slum, then an “early warning” system indicating this could allow both the free market and government to work together to preempt this.
Again, to an economist the key issue here is what externality exists in the urban housing market to justify heavy government intervention? HUD should have to document such externalities and explain why funding it helps to mitigate these social challenges. What evidence would convince Republicans that HUD is “cost-effective”? Or is your claim that Republicans live in suburbs and don’t care about cities?