HOME Investment Partnerships, an affordable home ownership technical assistance program ran by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), is authorized as part of the Cranston-Gonzalez National Affordable Housing Act, initially approved by Congress in 1990. The HOME program awards block grants to state and local governments ("participating jurisdictions") to develop affordable housing. With a FY 2010 budget of $1.807 billion, the program funds can be used to build new housing projects, buy and rehabilitate existing housing stock, provide direct rental assistance to low-income persons, or for "other reasonable and necessary expenses related to the development of non-luxury housing."
Through a formula process that allocates 60 percent of funds to localities and 40 percent to states, states receive a minimum of $3 million and localities a minimum of $500,000 in grant funds. In years in which Congress appropriates less than $1.5 billion, eligible localities receive a minimum of $350,000. Localities that do not qualify for the HOME program may partner with other qualified communities to receive HOME funds as a group. The program requires that the state or locality match 25 percent of all grant funds.
Important for community wealth builders is a provision that requires participating jurisdictions to set aside at least 15 percent of their allocation to support Community Housing Development Organizations (CHDOs). According to the statute, CHDOs are non-profit organizations whose governing boards consist of at least one-third elected representatives of low income neighborhood organizations, residents of low income neighborhoods, or other low income community residents.
Many community development corporations (CDCs) are also certified as CHDOs. Indeed, HOME is one of the three leading federal programs (the Low Income Housing Tax Credit and Community Development Block Grant programs being the others) that provide funding for CDC operations. Community land trusts can also become CHDOs and are thus eligible for HOME funding.
Housing developed with HOME funds must be marketed to individuals with incomes at set percentages of the area median income (AMI) published annually by HUD. For example, 30 percent of AMI or below is considered "extremely low income;" 50 percent or below is considered "very low income," 80 percent or below is considered "low income" and 80 to 120 percent of area median income is considered "moderate income."
- The National Low Income Housing Coalition offers an overview of the HOME program here:
- The U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) provides an overview of the HOME programs here: www.hud.gov/offices/cpd/affordablehousing/programs/home
Community development practitioners can access several useful reports from HUD regarding the HOME program here: www.hud.gov/offices/cpd/affordablehousing/reports