The House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance held a hearing on April 20 to review a legislative proposal on rent reforms. Representative Dennis Ross’s (R-FL) proposed a “discussion draft” of his bill “Promoting Resident Opportunity through Rent Reform Act,” asking witnesses for feedback and insights. The bill would allow public housing authorities (PHAs) to raise rents through modified rental structures and “shallower” (i.e., lower) housing subsidies to HUD-assisted families and would allow PHAs to impose work requirements and de facto time limits. Several witnesses stated that the current rent structure discourages two-parent households and participation in the workforce and should be changed to allow PHAs more flexibilities. Others countered that these changes would make housing benefits less effective, raise rents on vulnerable families, and potentially increase homelessness.
Ranking Member Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) expressed concerns about the proposals in his opening remarks. He noted that HUD is currently studying various rent structures and work requirements through several demonstration programs and shared his concerns about implementing changes without first evaluating the results of those efforts.
Representative Ruben Kihuen (D-NV) also questioned the proposal’s impact on those already working, noting the lack of available affordable housing and the inadequacy of the current minimum wage. Will Fischer, senior policy analyst with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said that rents would increase for the lowest income families, sometimes by hundreds of dollars, resulting in increased evictions. Several witnesses cited the need for additional resources for assisting low income families with their housing and noted that the majority of HUD-assisted work-able adults already have jobs. Those who do not work often have health limitations or act as caretakers for young children or other family members.
Learn more about the “Promoting Resident Opportunity through Rent Reform Act” at: https://bit.ly/2Hx74Pk
Learn more about the hearing at: https://bit.ly/2vAPBUL