Friday, July 9, 2010

36 Housing Assistance Programs

I started studying all the accounts listed under the OMB "Housing Assistance" program. Of the 41 accounts it looks like there are 36 different accounts for various housing assistance programs from 2009. That's right, 36 different accounts. And on top of that, one of those accounts is "Other Assisted Housing Programs" meaning that there are even more programs than the 36 listed at the account level.

Of those, most are meant to help the poor get into some type of housing (as you probably would expect). In fact, in 2009 only one program's purpose didn't have something to do with that. That was the temporary first-time home-buyers housing credit. That cost came to just over 9 billion. So of the 51 Billion our government spent on housing assistance, only 42 billion of it actually goes to help the poor.

Something I find curious is the 6 accounts related to the "Rural Housing Service". Not that they exist or that there's 6 of them, but the fact that it's a part of the Dept. of Agriculture instead of HUD. The Bureau cost 1.1 billion dollars on housing assistance and 1.5 billion for everything that it does. While it is a minuscule program, i'd like to know more about it. I'll research it more in the future.

Another curious program is the Affordable Housing Program. It costs 152 million and doesn't really seem to do anything. It's only been on the books since FY1990 when it cost 13 million. It's price tag went up slowly until 2008 when it cost 354 million. Then in FY2009 it went down to 152 million which is the projected cost for the next couple years. I did some googleing and found out that the program is part of the FDIC(Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation). It looks like the program is meant to sell FDIC held properties(presumably taken from a bank liquidation) and sell them to landlords at a reduced rate as long as that landlord promises to have reduced cost rent for some of the properties. Being that the website says there are "no properties for sale", I assume that the 152 million that the program costs is related to making sure that landlords fulfill their part of the bargain. At a cost of 152 million, it is even more minuscule than the "Rural Housing Service", however it still seems like a program that costs more than it's worth. I'll be researching more into this program in the future as well.

One last thing that gets me is not the amount we spend on housing assistance for the poor, but how many housing programs there are. Fortunately, most of the accounts are pretty small(By Federal Government standards, I'm going to say half a billion is "small"). It just seems like there could be some way to consolidate all of them and save a few million or even a billion. After all, save a few hundred million dollars here and a billion dollars there, and pretty soon we're talking some serious cash!

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