President Obama's budget is getting hit for doing harm to housing. But the president's funding request also would restore money to a key urban planning program.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition says the president's proposed fiscal year 2013 budget "contains a mix of deep cuts, flat funding, and troublesome policy recommendations" on the housing side. NLIHC singles out proposed reductions to Project-Based Rental Assistance, where the administration proposes to provide less than a full 12 months of funding to some of the public housing agencies that administer the grants.

“HUD has tried this budget gimmick before and it wrecked havoc in the lives of hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people," said NLIHC president Sheila Crowley in a statement. The administration says "the constrained fiscal environment forced difficult choices" like the reduction in Project-Based Rental Assistance, but insists the change "will not affect families served by the program."

The administration also says it wants to up the minimum rent in HUD programs from the current $25-$50 range to $75. The White House argues the change is in line with inflation. Crowley says: "It is Scrooge-like."

In other policy news:

  • The good news in the Obama housing budget is that it aims to restore funding for Sustainable Communities, a program in which the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department f Transportation and Environmental Protection Agency coordinate their efforts to create environmentally sound, transit-oriented development—a key planning initiative introduced by the Obama White House that Congress zeroed our this fiscal year.

  • New York State pays hospitals more than a billion dollars a year to cover the cost of caring for the indigent uninsured, but a new report by the Community Service Society finds that hospitals often do not comply with the laws governing that program. Two-thirds of the hospitals whose records were obtained—and which collectively received more than $460 million in indigent care payments in 2010—"violate the law, fail to comply with DOH guidance, or impose additional barriers to accessing hospital financial assistance. "

    Incentivizing Patient Financial Assistance: How to fix New York’s Hospital Indigent Care Program

  • The New York Civil Liberties Union reports that the NYPD has conducted more than 4.3 million street stops, 88 percent of which resulted in no arrest or summons. The statistics from the fourth quarter of 2011 reveal changes in how different neighborhoods are policed. Overall, stops by precinct cops rose 15 percent from the third to the fourth quarter. But some precincts saw a very different change. Take the 40th precinct, which covers Mott Haven and Melrose in the South Bronx. From July through September there were 581 stops there. From October through December there were 1,727 stops—a 197 percent increase. The 100th Precinct, in the Rockaways, saw the largest decrease—a 30 percent slide.

  • Prevailing wages—the wages paid to construction and other tradespersons on public projects—aren't set in a straightforward or transparent manner, reports the Citizens Budget Commission, resulting in pay rates that are actually higher than industry averages in the metro area.