WASHINGTON -- The fiscal 1994 federal spending bill for housing, which includes $1.275 billion for the HOME program, was signed into law last week by President Clinton.

The law gives HOME an increase of more than 25% from its 1993 allocation of $1 billion. The 1994 appropriation equals the Senate's original proposal and is slightly higher than the $1.25 billion originally approved by the House.

The appropriations law also includes $4.4 billion for the Community Development Block Grant program in fiscal 1994. The amount is $176 million more than stipulated in the original House bill, and $400 million more than the fiscal 1993 appropriation.

The HOME program, created in 1990, requires the federal government to match contributions that state and local governments make to low-income rental and home ownership projects.

Contributions that are eligible for federal matching funds include a state or locality's general obligation housing bonds and a portion of its multifamily and mortgage revenue bond issues.

State and local governments must contribute $1 for every $3 of federal funds received for new construction, and $1 for every $4 received for projects involving substantial rehabilitation of existing units or rental assistance.

A separate bill pending in Congress would bring the matching requirement for new construction in line with rehabilitation and rental projects. State and local housing officials have said the change would make more states and localities willing to seek matching funds for new construction.

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