While the continued housing recovery is a clear indication that the economy is getting back on its feet, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan doesn’t want to go back to the way things were in 2005 and 2006.
He wants the 'new normal' to be better — reshaping the housing market where ladders of opportunity are equally available to meet housing goals.
As part of this effort, HUD has put forth an agenda to put an end to any disparities by stepping up fair housing enforcement, ensuring that all Americans have equal access to homeownership and helping the hardest hit communities rebuild.
"All of this work has long been a part of HUD’s mission. In the area of enforcement — we administer the Fair Housing Act," Donovan explained.
He added, "It boldly declared that every person has the right to live wherever he or she chooses. And all of us at HUD work tirelessly to ensure that this law in our books is a reality in our communities by fighting housing discrimination — whenever and wherever it exists."
As a result, HUD will publish a new rule this week to bring affirmatively further fair housing into play.
The new rule will provide a clear definition of what it means to further fair housing, outline a standard framework with well-defined parameters and offer targeted guidance and assistance to help grantees complete this assessment.
"Perhaps most important — for the first time ever — HUD is providing data for every neighborhood in the nation, detailing what access African American families, and other members of protected classes, have to the community assets I talked about earlier — including jobs, schools and transit," Donovan stated.
In order for Americans to better gain equal access to homeownership and keep it, HUD is putting down the hammer on financial institutions that were involved with the National Mortgage Servicing Settlement.
Recently, the Settlement’s Independent Monitor Joe Smith released a report showing that servicers consistently fail to send notices and communicate decision to stakeholders in a timely manner.
As a result, HUD put the five financial institutions officially on notice and they are required to correct such problems or the Obama administration — along with the bipartisan support of 49 state attorneys general — will fine up to $5 million for each failure, Donovan pointed out.
To ensure HUD plays a significant role in assisting the hardest-hit communities through the nation, Donovan explained that the agency is against the House Republican Appropriations Bill that would cut $3 billion from Obama’s request from public housing and other rental assistance programs.
This means 125,000 fewer housing vouchers would be available and 86,000 people who were once homeless would be back on the streets.
"So I ask all of you to say 'no,'" the HUD Secretary urged.
He concluded, "No, we will not balance budgets on the backs of middle class and vulnerable Americans. No, we will not withdraw our support of those who need it most. And no we will not deny so many families their fair chance to get back on their feet and better their lives if they work hard."