WASHINGTON -- A proposal by the Department of Housing and Urban Development to cut $45 million from the HOME program's 1994 budget has the National Council of State Housing Agencies concerned.

HUD wants to redistribute the $45 million, from the more than $1 billion HOME is expected to receive this year, to a new HUD program for the homeless.

"While we could support these new programs, siphoning off future HOME funds will assure that, just as jurisdictions gear up their HOME programs, the money to run them at full speed will have been taken away," said John McEvoy, executive director of the National Council of State Housing Agencies, in a letter to HUD dated June 23.

HUD's proposal needs congressional approval. The House has approved redistributing only $25 million to the new homeless program. The Senate has not acted on the request yet.

HOME is a program created by Congress in December 1990 that requires the federal government to match the contributions of state and local governments to the construction of low-income rental units and homes.

Jack Flynn, public affairs officer for HUD, said the department is justified in making the proposal because HOME "is a new program and has been slow to get up to speed, so we [HUD] think we can take a small amount of funds for housing-related activities."

Flynn said state and local governments have only used about 5% of the approximately $2.5 billion Congress has allocated to the HOME program over the past two years.

HOME's appropriation for fiscal 1994 has not been set by Congress. HUD requested a $1.6 billion appropriation. The House recently passed a $1.2 billion appropriation, a slight increase over the $1 billion Congress allocated last year. The appropriation bill has not yet reached the Senate.

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