AFFORDABLE HOUSING FINANCE and Editor-in-Chief Andre Shashaty were recently recognized with two Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Awards, the nation's most prestigious honor for business- to-business journalism.

American Business Media (ABM), the sponsor of the awards, recognized "The Trouble with HUD and How to Fix It" as the best subject-related series of articles. The series, which ran in the June and July 2007 issues, was also a finalist for ABM's Grand Neal Award.

The winning series of articles detailed and analyzed allegations of corruption and inefficiency in how the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awards contracts, which total more than $1 billion per year. It revealed new information about a federal investigation into public statements by HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson that he awards contracts on the basis of the political loyalties of would-be contractors. The series went on to report on other problems with HUD, and quoted a wide range of industry experts on how to improve the agency's operations.

The June issue of AFFORDABLE HOUSING FINANCE also took top honors as the best single issue of a magazine. AFFORDABLE HOUSING FINANCE is published by Hanley Wood. Boyce Thompson, editorial director of Hanley Wood's Builder, Multifamily, and Tech Groups, received the G.D. Crain Award for editorial excellence.

Missing New Orleans, But Not Public Housing

PUBLIC HOUSING RESIDENTS displaced by Hurricane Katrina want to return to New Orleans but not to public housing in the city, according to a survey commissioned by the Housing Authority of New Orleans. About 71.6 percent of the more than 2,100 current and former public housing residents surveyed want to come back to their former town. Only 35 percent want to return to public housing in the city. A look at the families who lived in the C.J. Peete, B.W. Cooper, St. Bernard, and Lafitte public housing developments found that only 13.7 percent preferred to return to their former units.

That's a striking finding considering the fierce debate over plans to demolish the complexes.

Conducted by the University of Texas at Arlington, the study also found that 36.6 percent of the households want to return to the city but want Sec. 8 housing choice vouchers. About 21.4 percent prefer to stay where they have relocated, continuing to live in public housing or rental housing supported by a voucher.

About half of the respondents have already moved back to New Orleans. Of those who had moved back to the city, more than one-third reported living in the public housing unit they had occupied before Katrina.

Poll: Housing Policy Important to Voters

NINE OUT OF 10 Americans say providing affordable housing is an important issue in their community, according to a poll by the Housing America Campaign, a coalition of public, private, and nonprofit advocacy groups.

Asked about their own priorities, 92 percent said having a decent affordable place to live was their top or high priority. Affordable housing could also affect the way Americans vote. Seventy-four percent say a candidate's ideas on providing affordable housing are important, and 69 percent said they would be more likely to select a candidate who articulated a plan for providing affordable housing.

Forty-two percent said the nation's housing policy was on the right track, a slight increase from last year's results. Fifty percent said it was on the wrong track this year.

$130 Million Awarded to Fight Foreclosures

NEIGHBORWORKS AMERICA announced that $130 million has been awarded to 32 state housing finance agencies, 16 Department of Housing and Urban Development-approved housing counseling intermediaries, and 82 community- based NeighborWorks organizations to provide counseling to families facing foreclosure.

An estimated 350,000 to 400,000 families will be directly assisted with this funding, according to the group.

NeighborWorks America was named in the Consolidated Appropriations Act to administer a $180 million national mortgage foreclosure mitigation counseling program.

A second pool of $37.8 million remains available.

The Homeownership Preservation Foundation, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, and the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America received the largest awards, $15 million each.