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Topic: HUD-did they ignore the poor again?

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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Federal inspectors criticize Michigan housing aid program
Todd Spangler , Detroit Free Press Published 9:02 a.m. ET Jan. 11, 2017 | Updated 7:50 p.m. ET Jan. 11, 2017
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(Photo: Rick Nease illustration)

WASHINGTON — Federal investigators released a report Wednesday criticizing the handling of a mortgage relief program in Michigan and elsewhere, suggesting that too many people making less than $30,000 a year may have been denied benefits.

The report by SIGTARP — the office of special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program — found that slightly more than half of the 160,000 people denied help under the Hardest Hit Fund since its inception in 2010 made under $30,000, raising questions whether eligibility criteria are too stringent.

“Removing unnecessary program criteria, making state agencies track why each person was turned down, and letting workers facing an upcoming layoff be eligible now before they fall behind on their mortgage can go a long way to help save homes,” said Special Inspector General Christy Romero.

The report on the Hardest Hit Fund — which is part of the overall Troubled Asset Relief Program and has committed more than $760 million to Michigan, including some $250 million to demolish abandoned structures in Detroit — didn't mention that of the nearly 32,000 families that received aid in Michigan as of the end of last June, 78% made under $50,000.

Officials with the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA), which oversees the program in the state, also told the Free Press that 11,713 families with gross household incomes of less than $30,000 have received assistance since the program began — though that's nearly 1,000 less than the number of those making under that amount who were denied, according to the report.

“(We) take all reviews of our programs seriously and are constantly looking for ways we can improve them for the benefit of Michigan homeowners,” said Katie Bach, a MSHDA spokeswoman. “We take great pride in the fact that as of Sept. 30, 2016, Michigan's program was second only to California in the number of households helped.

“The Hardest Hit Fund has helped more than 280,000 homeowners that have experienced economic hardship. Approximately 80% of homeowners approved for HHF programs have received assistance due to a hardship resulting from either unemployment or underemployment, and more than 80% of homeowners who have received assistance have an income of less than $50,000 per year," said Mark McArdle, deputy assistant secretary for financial stability at the Treasury Department, which oversees the program.

While the additional funding committed to blight removal in Michigan under the Hardest Hit Fund has recently received attention — the Free Press has reported that SIGTARP also is leading an investigation into Detroit’s demolition program — this most recent report centers on the Hardest Hit Fund’s earlier goals of committing funds in 18 states and Washington, D.C., to help keep people in their homes at the height of the housing crisis.

In the report, SIGTARP complained that in too many cases states didn’t provide adequate records revealing why people were turned down for help. In other cases, like Michigan’s, it maintained that only vague reasons such as “borrower ineligible” were given. The report said 12,653 denied help in Michigan made under $30,000 a year — second only to the 16,706 denied in Florida. Meanwhile, the report maintained that more than 1,000 families that had made $90,000 a year received aid in Michigan.

Suggesting Michigan and Ohio could have better used funding to help prop up homeowners in areas where automakers closed plants or cut shifts, the report called for less stringent qualifications for recipients who find themselves unemployed or unable to meet their mortgage costs. That was especially true in Michigan, where rules limit help for families with mortgages no larger than 45% of their income and require a 20% cut in pay before aid can kick in.

Many of those rules were drafted when the housing and job markets, particularly in Michigan, still were in free fall. But SIGTARP noted that many other states don’t have qualifications for aid that are nearly as strict.

“Treasury and state agencies should level the playing field,” the office said in a news release. “Someone in Detroit shouldn’t face more restrictions than someone in another state.”

Contact Todd Spangler: 703-854-8947 or at tspangler@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter at @tsspangler.
Post Tue Jan 17, 2017 3:09 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Most of the homes that have been built were for moderate income and market rate homes. The apartments being built downtown are for designated low income-seniors, veterans, etc.

The issue of targeting homes near Smith Village to rehab for low income was many times a disaster and had numerous allegations of corruption in the process from the homeowners. Some houses were so neglected they became "money pits".

Like Detroit, Flint has spent a great deal on demolitions.

Has anyone looked into the new "tiny house" phenomenon to help stop some level of homeless residents?
Post Tue Jan 17, 2017 3:23 pm 
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