Recently The Weekly Standard ran an article by Ike Brannon and Benjamin Gitis suggesting that the mortgage deduction was no longer so important as it had been in the past, and recommending instead a program in Wisconsin called WHEDA, which stands for Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority, which helps marginal homebuyers [those with incomes under $80,000 per year] buy homes by covering a portion of the closing costs, but also by requiring eight hours of classes to participate. At the same time, I saw a story in USA Today describing how a federal program called HOPE VI has been tearing down and rebuilding housing projects in a superior and better looking way, reducing crime. Both of these features – the classes and a focus on beauty – have long been characteristic of the private philanthropic program in Grand Rapids, Michigan, called Inner City Christian Federation. The ICCF model does work with the relatively poor, and it requires more classes, not only in finance, but in home maintenance. My wife and I have the fortune of knowing Jonathan Bradford, the head of ICCF, and we have been privileged to tour its projects.
Related: “The Mortgage Interest Boondoggle” by Ike Brannon and Benjamin Gitis at The Weekly Standard
Related: “HOPE VI program to renovate housing projects faces cuts” by By Brian Haas of The Tennessean at USAToday.com