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Housing cuts condemned

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MINNEAPOLIS - The outgoing president of the National Association of
Mortgage Brokers has deplored the pending cuts in federal housing funding
for American Indians.

Bob Armbruster said at NAMB's annual convention in Minneapolis that he was
against a proposed 15 percent cut in funding for Native American Housing
Assistance and Self Determination Act block grants for fiscal year 2006.

"There's something wrong with that," said Armbruster, who heads Armbruster
Mortgage Services Inc. He made his remarks in a joint press conference with
the incoming president of NAMB, Jim Nabors, in which cultural diversity was
announced as a top priority of the 27,000-member national trade

Armbruster made outreach to minorities one of the priorities of his
one-year term. During his presidency, NAMB announced a financial literacy
campaign for Hispanics in Texas and attempted an outreach to American
Indians on the same topic.

Armbruster has said he will remain involved in that outreach after his NAMB
term ends.

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The initial FY 2006 budget for the Department of Housing and Urban
Development, which administers NAHASDA, calls for $583 million: a $39
million drop from this fiscal year. But since the Indian Community
Development Block Grant program has been folded into NAHASDA, the $68
million ICDBG got in FY 2005 will also be lost, for a net drop of $107
million, or about 15 percent.

According to the National American Indian Housing Council, the House of
Representatives and the Senate have passed differing budget legislation,
which now must be reconciled. Congress can amend the Bush administration's
budget requests, and often does.

NAIHC also reports that prominent members of Congress, such as Sen. John
McCain, R-Ariz., and Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, have protested the slashes
in Indian housing funds.

One bright spot for Indian housing in FY 2006 is increased funding
requested for the two HUD Native homeownership loan guarantee programs, the
HUD 184 and Title VI programs.

A HUD official at the NAMB convention touted the success of the
government's Indian mortgage programs. The HUD 184 has recently been
expanded beyond reservation borders in states where individual tribes have
requested that authority.