Legislation to establish a trust fund that would finance the creation of up to 1.5 million affordable housing units over the next 10 years has been introduced in the Senate after a similar measure won House approval in October. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., introduced a bill Wednesday that would create a National Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Kerry, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, brought the bill forward on Congress’s final day in session this year. The Senate is expected to return on Jan. 22. While Kerry has introduced a similar trust fund bill in each of the last three years, the House in October approved similar legislation that was sponsored by House Financial Services Committee chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass.Any measure approved by Congress, however, could face a veto from President Bush. The Bush administration has said it “strongly opposes” the trust fund, arguing the program would be redundant and that resources allocated to it could be put to better use in preexisting programs. Officials have said they would recommend a veto if it reaches the President’s desk.The bill was passed in the House despite intense opposition from Republicans, who repeatedly attempted in committee and on the floor to consolidate the funding into established programs. Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., called the House bill “a whole new level of federal bureaucracy.”The trust fund, if approved, would be funded by mortgage surpluses from the Federal Housing Administration, as well as a portion of funds from mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Separate bills to establish this funding are under consideration in the House.Frank has maintained that no program would meet the needs of low income and poor individuals as the trust fund would.Housing sources said they do not anticipate Kerry’s bill to be put before the Senate Banking Committee for amendments or heard on the Senate floor in the immediate future, as lawmakers will address longer running issues first.
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