"The HOME program has helped a lot of low-income individuals find affordable housing over the past 20 years," Capito said. "However, there have been grave concerns regarding oversight of the program, and HUD has been slow to adapt to many of the recommendations proposed by various auditors, including a GAO audit performed last February."
That audit found that HUD could not prove that its field offices were effectively monitoring construction projects, although it found that HUD had strengthened controls since it was reprimanded by Congress in 2011.
Charleston, which got $380,000 in HOME funds this year, down from more than $1 million in 2011, uses that money to give low interest loans to first time home-buyers. Buyers can get a loan for 20 percent of a house that costs less than $125,000.
That money also helps fund local nonprofit organizations like the Religious Coalition for Community Renewal, which runs low-income rental programs and a homeless shelter.
Brian King, director of the Mayor' Office of Economic and Community Development in Charleston, said that they're currently using HOME funds to turn the old Glenwood Elementary School on the West Side into 30 apartments for senior citizens.
"We will have to make some terrible decisions at that point on what we're going to be able to do," King said about the potential for more cuts. "At some point, I guess, are you OK to accept these funds because you really can't do anything to help."
After several studies found that Huntington needed more housing for larger families, the city built the Artisan Heights apartment complex, which was completed in 2010. That project used about $400,000 in HOME funds to create 22 three and four-bedroom low-income apartments.
Huntington got about $550,000 in HOME funds this year, down from more than $1 million in 2011.
"The HOME funds can only create housing, that's it, it's black and white," said Dawnetta Weekley, the HOME program director in Huntington. "If it gets cut again it's going to be hard to meet, in my opinion, to meet the mission statement of the program which is to create safe, decent affordable housing."
Erika Boggess, executive director of the West Virginia Housing Development Fund, said that HOME funds were particularly important in areas like the Eastern Panhandle with high costs of living.
"Working people who are trying to find an affordable home are going to lose out if these programs keep getting cut. It forces them to move to a farther out area to find an affordable home and then gasoline costs go up," Boggess said. "It certainly is going to harm our ability to provide affordable housing to the people at those lower income levels."
Boggess stressed that Capito has been very supportive of the Housing Development Fund.
President Obama and the Democratic-led U.S. Senate are very unlikely to agree to the cuts in the House bill, but they serve as a baseline for future negotiations.
Reach David Gutman at david.gut...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5119.