of government functions in the early 1980s, market mechanisms rather than government intervention were identified as the best way to solve problems like poverty, lack of affordable housing, and urban decline. Although policy in this era emphasized market-oriented approaches, Congress also passed the Stewart B. McKinney Act of 1987, which enabled HUD to continue playing a role in addressing housing and urban issues.

The Stewart B. McKinney Act of 1987 engaged HUD to help communities deal with homelessness. New responsibilities for the housing needs of Native Americans, and Alaskan Indians came with the 1988 Indian Housing Act. HUD’s priorities for increasing home ownership, especially for low-income Americans, were reinforced by the Cranston-Gonzalez National Affordable Housing and Low-Income Housing Preservation and Residential Homeownership Acts of 1990. In 1995, the “Blueprint for Reinvention of HUD” stressed housing reform, adaptation of the Federal Housing Administration, and consolidation of programs into community block grants. Through the Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act of 1998, Congress approved Public Housing reforms to reduce segregation by race and income, encourage and reward work, bring more working families into public housing, and increase the availability of subsidized housing for poor families.3 Home-ownership reached a record high in the third quarter of 2000, when 67.7 percent of American families owned their homes (HUD, 2002a).

Despite changes in emphasis and national priorities over HUD’s history, the agency’s mission has remained constant. HUD’s mission is to increase homeownership, support community development, and increase access to affordable housing free from discrimination (HUD, 2002b).

To carry out its mission, HUD has identified six strategic goals (HUD, 2002b):

  1. Increase homeownership opportunities.

  2. Promote decent affordable housing.

  3. Strengthen communities.

  4. Ensure equal opportunity in housing.

  5. Embrace high standards of ethics, management, and accountability.

  6. Promote participation of faith-based and community organizations.

HUD’s wealth of relationships with local and community groups and attention to the most disadvantaged communities in the United States provide


Poverty measurements are variable. The U.S. Bureau of the Census sets income thresholds that vary with locality and with family size and composition, below which a family is considered poor (<http://www.census.gov/hhes/poverty/povdef.html >). See Citro and Michael, 1995.

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