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New report points to 12.9M in 'worst-case housing'

Before the current housing crisis, about 5.3 percent of the nation's households, or 12.9 million people, paid half their monthly income for rent, lived in "severely substandard" housing or both, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said in a recent report.

In "Worst Case Housing Needs 2007: A Report to Congress," HUD officials acknowledged that the 2007 figures do not take into account today's economic turmoil but said the next such report would. Released in May, the study looks at people who earn 30- to 50 percent of the area median income, or $19,700 to $32,850 for an individual back in 2007 for Long Island and $28,150 to $46,900 for a family of four.

"Behind every number is the story of a person or a family struggling to maintain affordable housing," said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. "Whether these worst case needs are caused by general rental market conditions or by the lack of federal investment in affordable rental housing we saw between 2001 and 2007, the Obama administration is not willing to turn a blind eye toward the absolute need we're seeing all across our nation."

The report comes as the White House and Congress battle over the budget. Among other items, HUD has asked for $150 million for a Catalytic Investment Fund, which would pay for local, economic innovations, and $250 million for the Choice Neighborhood Initiative, aimed at transforming communities with concentrated poverty into sustainable mixed-income communities.

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