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Congressman Capuano, Secretary Cuomo, Members of Congress Announce Strategy to Protect Affordable Housing

April 29, 1999 -- Today, 8th District Representative Michael Capuano joined U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo and other members of Congress to announce a plan to immediately address the problem with "expiring use" housing throughout the country.

HUD's plan would prevent "opt-outs" from the project-based section 8 program. HUD will act immediately to target properties in strong markets that are in good condition and most likely to opt out. At the same time, Congress and the Administration will work together to craft a comprehensive strategy to protect residents and preserve the best of project-based section 8 housing.

"I applaud Secretary Cuomo and HUD as well as Senator Kerry and Representative Frank for their leadership on this important issue. Now, many working families throughout this country will be able to retain their affordable housing units. I look forward to working with the Secretary to create other affordable housing alternatives,"stated Congressman Capuano.

Years ago, the federal government invested billions of dollars to create incentives for private developers to build units of affordable housing. Property owners were required to keep the units affordable for the life of the mortgage. Once mortgage obligations had been satisfied, however, owners were free to charge market rate for the properties. Several years ago, the Republican-controlled Congress passed legislation which allowed property owners to pre-pay their mortgages and "opt-out" of their affordable housing commitments.

This means that many working families throughout Massachusetts and the entire country are in danger of losing their affordable units.

Mike has been working diligently to address this affordable housing dilemma. Earlier this month, he hosted an Expiring Use Housing Forum at Roxbury Community College. Affordable housing advocates throughout the 8th Congressional District were invited to share their thoughts and their expertise. The purpose of the forum was to develop recommendations for policy, legislation and programs that would address expiring use as well as the larger issue of preserving affordable housing.

Mike also met with Jack Lew, Director of the Office of Management and the Budget (OMB) to review possible solutions to HUD's section 8 expiring use contracts. Congressman Capuano urged OMB to give HUD the authority to renegotiate section 8 contracts. This would reduce tenant displacement and preserve affordable housing units.

Well before he became the Representative from Massachusetts' 8th district, Mike was working to save affordable housing units. In Somerville in 1990, Mike worked with then U.S. Representative Joe Kennedy to save a 500-unit "expiring use" building " Clarendon Hill Towers. This property was one of the first expiring use projects in the nation to face this problem. The units are now owned by the tenants and will remain affordable.

"I will continue to work with my colleagues as well my constituents to insure that long-term solutions to our affordable housing crisis are implemented," Rep. Capuano stated.