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Gonzalez Blasts Administration on Housing

January 9, 1985

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Housing subcommittee chairman Rep. Henry B. Gonzalez blasted the Reagan administration on Tuesday, saying it had abandoned federal housing programs and fostered an economy in which only the wealthy can buy homes.

″The question we face in Congress this year is whether or not there is a future for federal housing efforts. It’s that simple,″ Gonzalez, D-Texas, said in a speech to the National Housing Conference.

He said he introduced legislation last week proposing to almost double the budget of the Department of Housing and Urban Development from $12 billion to $22 billion. Gonzalez heads the House Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs subcommittee on housing and community development.

HUD spokesman Bob Nipp said the administration has taken no position on Gonzalez’s bill.

″We recognize that there has been a housing problem in this country that goes back many, many years,″ he said. ″At the same time, we have been providing housing assistance to more families than ever. In fiscal 1981, when this administration came into office, HUD was assisting 2.3 million families with housing. Now it has risen to approximately four million.″

Gonzalez said under the Reagan administration, the number of new government housing units or vouchers for housing dropped from 675,000 to 84,000. Tere are 5,000 authorized for 1985, Gonzalez said.

″But the Reagan administration not only threatens all efforts to provide decent housing for the poor and near-poor of this country,″ Gonzalez said, ″its abdication of responsibility with regard to economic management and fiscal policy threatens the affordability of housing for all but the richest among us.″

Though builders had a good year in 1984, he said, in none of the last four years ″has the number of single-family home starts reached even the lowest levels of the Carter years.″

Gonzalez said his proposed legislation would increase federally assisted production of housing from the present level of 175,000 units to about 280,000, establish a homeownership program for moderate-income people, increase the weatherization program, and double the emergency shelter program for the homeless.

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