The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

April 10, 2013

Ag, education cuts, energy boosted: Agency by agency guide to Obama's 2014 budget

(Continued)

WASHINGTON —

The president has also proposed cuts to DHS's biodefense activities and the agency's analysis and operations, which includes the Office of Intelligence and Analysis and the Office of Operations and Coordination and Planning. The proposed cuts for biodefense come amid continuing debate over the future of the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility that is currently set to be built in Kansas.

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Agency: Housing and Urban Development

Total Spending: $47.2 billion

Percentage Change from 2013: 50.7 percent decrease

Discretionary Spending: $33.1 billion

Mandatory Spending: $14.1 billion

Highlights: The president is asking for $37.4 billion to provide rental housing assistance for 5.4 million families, including new rental vouchers for homeless veterans. HUD's programs serve primarily the poor, elderly and disabled.

The president's budget blueprint calls for $2.8 billion for the Community Development Block Grant program, a modest cut. The program got about $3 billion in fiscal year 2013 according to HUD. States and cities use the money to build streets and sidewalks, provide water and build sewers and make other infrastructure improvements in low-income neighborhoods. The program is popular with local officials struggling to balance budgets.

Obama's budget request would also provide funding for 10,000 new vouchers for homeless veterans.

Obama calls for a slight increase to $950 million for the HOME Investment Partnerships Program that provides grants to states and local communities for things like buying or rehabilitating affordable housing and rental assistance. The program got $948 million for 2013. It is the largest federal block grant program to state and local governments aimed solely at providing affordable housing for the poor.

At the same time, Obama wants to reduce costs in HUD rental assistance programs by simplifying administrative procedures, doing a better job of targeting rental assistance to the working poor and setting more equitable public housing rents.

Obama is seeking $20 billion for the Housing Choice Voucher program to provide rental assistance to 2.2 million poor families, a modest increase. The program received about $18 billion in 2013, according to HUD. The vouchers are the federal government's major program to assist low-income families, the elderly and the disabled. Renters in this program, most of whom are poor families with children, seniors or people with disabilities, generally pay 30 to 40 percent of their income to rent and the voucher makes up the difference.

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