The House Financial Services Subcommittee on Insurance, Housing and Community Opportunity will hold a February 28 hearing, “Oversight of the Department of Housing and Urban Development,” with testimony from five HUD assistant secretaries. The full House Committee on Financial Services will hold a March 1 hearing with HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. The hearings are expected to focus on President Obama’s FY13 budget request for HUD, which was released on February 13 (see Memo, 2/17).
The five HUD officials expected to testify at the Subcommittee hearing are: Carol Galante, Acting Federal Housing Administration Commissioner and Assistant Secretary for Housing; Sandra Henriquez, Assistant Secretary, Office of Public and Indian Housing; Mercedes Mãrquez, Assistant Secretary, Community Planning and Development; Raphael Bostic, Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research; and John Trasviña, Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.
On February 23, NLIHC sent a Call to Action to its members whose Representatives serve on this subcommittee, urging them to ask their Representative to make the President’s proposal to increase minimum rents on the very lowest income HUD-assisted households a key issue at the hearing. The President’s FY13 HUD request would require that every public housing, voucher and project-based Section 8 household pay a mandatory minimum monthly rent of $75. Today, public housing agencies can choose to establish minimum rents of up to $50 for public housing and voucher tenants, and the minimum rent for all project-based tenants is $25 a month. The proposal would take away PHAs’ discretion over setting minimum rents.
Since HUD-assisted residents pay about 30% of their incomes for rent, the vast majority of households already pay more than $75 in rent each month. It is only the most vulnerable, lowest income households who are subject to any minimum rent policy; their incomes alone do not trigger a $50 or $75 minimum rent payment. Households that would be impacted by increasing minimum rents to $75 have annual adjusted incomes of around $3,000. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that about 500,000 households, a disproportionate share of which are black or Latino, will be impacted by the President’s minimum rent increase proposal.
NLIHC urges subcommittee members to oppose the proposal and to question HUD officials at the February 28 hearing on its fairness. According to HUD, the proposal would generate $150 million in revenue in FY13, revenue HUD says it needs to fund the public housing, voucher and project-based Section 8 programs. This amount is less than .003% of the overall HUD budget request, an amount that NLIHC President Sheila Crowley called “Scrooge-like.” “The Budget Control Act created spending limits that are so unworkable that the federal government is reduced to picking the pockets of the poorest of the poor,” Ms. Crowley said in NLIHC’s February 13 press release.
The February 28 hearing will take place at 10 am in room 2128 of the Rayburn House office building.
Access NLIHC’s press release at http://nlihc.org/detail/article.cfm?article_id=8474&id=48.