The nation's cities are facing a housing crisis and need a significant infusion of federal dollars - $4 billion yearly in matching grant money and more - to alleviate the problem, a committee of mayors announced Saturday.
Adequate housing is emerging as a major concern among city bosses attending U.S. Conference of Mayors sessions in Salt Lake City, where a committee approved a report on the country's housing crisis.The report, designed to influence lawmakers and presidential contenders, recommends federal assistance of $4 billion yearly in matching housing block grant money for cities to use in assisting low-income home buyers.
Additionally, the mayors' report calls for a housing entitlement program with minimum annual funding of $20 billion to $22 billion for renting households earning less than 50 percent of the nation's median income.
"I think all of you would agree with me that we've had a tremendous problem in the area of housing," said Mayor Jessie Rattley of Newport News, Va. She is chairwoman of the conference's Community Development, Housing and Economic Development Committee.
Home ownership is on the decline in the United States, the report said, noting the average cost of a new home in December 1987 was $126,900.
Federal government should encourage first-time home buying with housing block grants, paid for through continued funding by Congress of the Community Development Block Grant program, the report recommended.
For families renting homes, rent increased 16 percent more than prices in general in the past six years, the report said.
Housing entitlements would offer some relief to low-income people who would otherwise face the difficulty of sinking large portions of their small incomes into rent, an extreme burden, the report said.
The report was compiled in draft form during the National Housing Forum in Austin, Texas, where mayors from 20 cities met to develop a policy to put forth at this convention.
Among other areas targeted by the report are the country's homeless, preservation of existing low-income housing, increasing local control over housing programs and rural housing.