The Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity of the House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing on its draft Section 8 Voucher Reform Act (SEVRA) on June 23. A second hearing with HUD officials will follow in the next weeks.
The Subcommittee’s draft bill will be circulated for review during the week of June 13. It is expected to be based on a December 2010 version of SEVRA that House and Senate offices tried unsuccessfully to attach to any omnibus spending bill at the end of 2010. As a result, no bill passed in the 111th Congress, so the process must start over in the 112th Congress.
SEVRA legislation has been introduced in the last several sessions of Congress, but has never reached a conference committee. Advocates are hopeful that SEVRA can be enacted in the 112th Congress.
NLIHC will publish a detailed description of the draft bill in the June 17 edition of Memo.
The draft SEVRA bill is expected to include improvements related to the voucher renewal funding process, inspections of voucher units, and the project-basing of vouchers. The bill may also simplify rent setting and establish a system to guard against excessive rent burdens for voucher holders. The bill could also establish new protocols and resources to assist households with limited English proficiency.
The December draft, from which House majority staff are working to draft their new bill, would have also allowed the HUD Secretary to carry out a rent policy demonstration to determine the effectiveness of different rent policies, including establishing policies that require families to pay more than 30% of their adjusted income for rent. NLIHC would oppose such a demonstration and would instead advocate for HUD to capture data from its current demonstration, Moving to Work, under which public housing agencies are already experimenting with such rent reforms.
The President’s FY12 HUD appropriations request included several revenue-generating SEVRA provisions, which HUD says would result in $150 million in savings in FY12 and $1 billion in savings over the next five years. These include allowing public housing agencies and owners to recertify incomes of fixed income households once every three years, instead of annually as is currently required; raising the standard deduction for elderly and disabled families from $400 to $675 while raising the threshold for medical and handicapped assistance expense deductions, for the purpose of determining rents, from 3% to 10% of a family’s annual net income; and, defining “extremely low income” as under 30% of area median income, which is HUD’s current definition, or the federal poverty level.
Link to the December 1 version of SEVRA at: http://www.nlihc.org/doc/SEVRA_New_Title.pdf