The House of Representatives passed H.R. 1734, the Civilian Property Realignment Act, by a vote of 259 to 164 on February 7. The legislation, authored by Representative Jeff Denham (R-CA) would create a commission, similar in concept to those used by the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process, to make expedited determinations on the disposition of vacant, surplus federal properties.
Currently, homeless service providers have the first right of refusal for surplus properties, as authorized under Title V of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. Initially, H.R. 1734 waived Title V rights completely. The legislation was amended prior to floor consideration and now requires that Title V be applied to some properties that are of a certain size and value.
While the intent of the bill is deficit reduction, the legislation authorizes new appropriations of $82 million to implement the commission.
Advocacy organizations, such as the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty (NLCHP), which has led the effort to protect Title V rights, oppose H.R. 1734 because it would weaken Title V, even as amended.
NLCHP urges passage of H.R. 665, legislation currently pending in the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. H.R. 665 would streamline the property disposition process while ensuring that Title V applies to all but the highest value federal surplus properties (see Memo, 7/29/2011).
NLCHP’s press release on the passage of H.R. 1734 is available at: http://www.nlchp.org/view_release.cfm?PRID=139