Vice President Joe Biden is speaking at a conference hosted by the Department of Housing and Urban Development on Tuesday.
The conference will focus on programs for expanding affordable housing in the U.S.
Traditionally, HUD has partnered with private business and nonprofits to achieve this. Those groups tend to know the needs of their communities better than bureaucrats in Washington says Bruce Katz, founder of Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. That means money is spent more efficiently.
“You want to have flexibility in the system. Housing markets tend to differ dramatically from let’s say, a Denver to a Detroit, or from a New York to a New Orleans,” says Katz.
The problem, he says, is that Federal funding for things like affordable housing is being cut back as an increasing share of the budget goes toward entitlement programs like Medicaid and Social Security.
In practice, that means many public-private partnerships have been given an increasing share of responsibility with decreasing funding.
“That money has just dwindled to a place where the city just doesn’t have the wherewithal to continue to fund these projects to any great extent,” says Richard Baron, CEO of McCormack Baron Salazar, an affordable housing developer based in St. Louis.
Baron says these partnerships are still the best way to provide service to communities, but the government must be the primary investor.