The House Financial Services Subcommittee on Insurance, Housing and Community Opportunity is expected to hold a February 7 mark up on the latest iteration of the voucher reform legislation (see Memo, 1/20). The subcommittee will also take up Chair Judy Biggert’s (R-IL) H.R. 32, the Homeless Children and Youth Act (see Memo, 1/14/2011), and a bill making reforms to the Federal Housing Administration.
NLIHC remains opposed to the voucher reform bill in its current state. The draft bill, the most recent version of which was released on January 13, would allow the HUD Secretary to set minimum rents for all HUD-assisted households to at least $69.45 and then allow public housing agencies and owners to set rents above that minimum. The bill would also allow expansion of the Moving to Work demonstration to all PHAs. NLIHC is working to resolve major issues with these provisions.
In NLIHC’s June 2011 testimony on an earlier draft of the bill, NLIHC stated its opposition to expanding the MTW demonstration. “We don’t know if residents have been helped finding employment. We don’t know if federal funds were used more efficiently. We don’t know if more residents have become self-sufficient than would have without the MTW program. We don’t know if housing choices for low income families have increased. We don’t know what has happened with MTW PHAs that have imposed or threatened time limits, work requirements, higher income targeting, and market rate rents,” NLIHC said in its testimony (see Memo, 6/24/2011).
The bill would make improvements to project-based vouchers, streamline rent and income determinations, and streamline the inspection process for potential voucher units, among other provisions. Unlike voucher reform bills from previous sessions, this draft bill does not provide an earned income disregard to tenants, does not improve portability, does not include reforms to the Section 8 Management Assessment Program, does not fully address voucher funding renewal issues, and does not include improvements to how vouchers can be used in manufactured housing, among other long-sought provisions.
H.R. 32 would expand the definition of homelessness. The bill amends the definition under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act to include children and youth who have been verified as homeless. In 2009, homeless assistance programs were reauthorized and the definition of homelessness was expanded. Ms. Biggert’s bill continues the extensive debate on this issue.