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Mortgage industry remains mum on Trump budget

President Donald Trump’s $4.1 trillion budget plan released this week has been met by near total silence from the mortgage and banking lobby, even as advocacy groups representing low-income housing occupants have decried the massive cuts proposed for U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs.

Most analysts, however, say the proposed budget, which bolsters defense spending and border security, envisions tax cuts, but deeply slashes spending to longstanding anti-poverty programs and farm programs, has little chance of gaining traction in Congress. Details of the administration's fiscal 2018 budget request were leaked to major media outlets days before the official release, and some leading Republicans have already indicated that the proposal would be substantially changed. 

trumpLow-income housing advocates were sounding alarm bells, however. Trump has proposed slashing HUD funding in fiscal 2018 by 13 percent. Several programs that provide funds for rental assistance and aid to neighborhood stabilization would get axed. Most of the proposed cuts were previously outlined two months ago. 

Among the casualties would be HUD’s longest continuously running program, the Community Development Block Grant program, which has provided funding to states since 1974 to develop programs to stabilize neighborhoods.

Trump’s budget also would eliminate the National Housing Trust Fund, which was created during the Obama administration to provide money to states to build or rehabilitate housing for lower-income people.The program allocated the first $174 million to the states in 2016.

In statements this past week, the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) said the budget would deal "a devastating blow" to numerous programs intended to help millions of vulnerable people obtain housing. NLIHC says the proposed cuts to HUD total around $7.4 billion and could lead to as many as 250,000 people losing vouchers for rental assistance. 

The Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA), the only major bank trade group yet to comment on the budget, took issue with several proposed cuts to farming programs. Trump’s budget proposes deep cuts to a food-assistance programs run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and slashing billions in farm subsidies. 

ICBA said in a release that the budget provides “a challenging level of agriculture-related budget cuts that would threaten farmers and rural communities at a time of increasing financial stress in the farm sector.”

Realtors have not yet taken a position on the specific cuts to HUD. National Association of Realtors President William Brown noted, however, the process was the “beginning of the road,” and expressed the hope that “the relevant departments and agencies have everything they need to support consumers.” 

The Trump budget also envisions deep cuts to the budget of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). For those plans to come to pass, however, Congress would have to change the law to make the CFPB budget subject to the Congressional appropriations process. The agency is currently funded through the Federal Reserve.  


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