Program Offers More Than Just New Construction

Originally published in The Boston Globe

May 25, 2011
Stephen D. Gartell (Newton, MA, Letter to the Editor)

Edward L. Glaeser has done a disservice to a good federal housing program. According to the Washington Post, the HOME program suffered delays in 2.5 percent of 28,000 active projects. It seems to me that a program in which 97.5 percent of the projects come in on time is a very good one!

Glaeser’s glib criticism of the HOME program left the impression that it was only a new housing production program. But the HOME program’s beauty lies in its flexibility in meeting housing needs defined by the local community. The program allows the state or locality, and not the federal government, to decide whether to use HOME funds to build new units, to rehabilitate existing units, to assist new homebuyers with the acquisition of affordable homes, to provide rental assistance to low-income tenants, or some combination thereof.

In this era of government-baiting, good programs like HOME are easily — and unfairly — targeted. Glaeser shouldn’t jump on the bandwagon.

Stephen D. Gartrell