This post comes from Marilyn Lewis at MSN Money.

Image: Rental market © Influx Productions-age fotostock
Housing for low-income Americans gets a new shot in the arm in President Barack Obama's proposed national budget, unveiled Wednesday.

"Better urban development isn't the first item on that agenda, but its an important part of the administration priorities for the coming year," says The Atlantic magazine.

Of course White House budget proposals rarely if ever are adopted whole. "President Obama's proposals today at a minimum shed light on which community development programs the administration sees as worth fighting for," adds The Atlantic.

Obama would give the Department of Housing and Urban Development new attention, expanding HUD's resources by almost 10% from 2012 -- up $4.2 billion to $47.6 billion.

Housing share still small

Still, the portion proposed for housing is tiny compared with, say, Social Security, defense or a lot of other categories, and that's no different from last year.

"The budget makes investments to revitalize distressed neighborhoods, reduces blight in communities hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis and supports sustainable economic development," according to HousingWire.

It's all part of a $3.77 trillion national budget proposal that tries trimming the country's budget deficit by more than 20% in 2014. Here's the budget, at WhiteHouse.gov, and a six-page overview from Politico. (If you want all the details, get them, with excellent graphics and clear breakdowns, at the Washington Post's Wonkbook.)

Obama would raise taxes on wealthier taxpayers and reduce spending with, among other proposals, cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. He'd also shrink Social Security recipients' annual cost-of-living increases, which has got many in Congress, including in his own party, up in arms. (Here is The New York Times' coverage.)

Meanwhile, $400 million is provided through the budget to transform neighborhoods with distressed HUD-assisted housing, up from $150 million in the 2013 budget.

The specifics

Here are the most-important details:

  • $37.4 billion for rental housing assistance for 4.7 million low-income families.
  • $2.4 billion to keep trying to end chronic homelessness and homelessness among veterans and families.
  • $400 million to help transform neighborhoods blighted with deteriorating HUD-assisted housing into mixed-income communities.
  • Maintains housing counseling for people with troubled loans and continues "loss mitigation" support to help FHA borrowers who are struggling with their mortgages. There's also money to reform the financially troubled FHA itself.
  • Keeps the long-running Community Development Block Grant program running, helping targeted neighborhoods with specific projects.

The proposed HUD budget says "savings are achieved through reduced funding for new affordable housing construction and reforms to the Department."

More than 90% of the increase to HUD's budget "would maintain current levels of rental and homelessness assistance, most who earn less than 30% of their area's median income," according to the MBA NewsLink.

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