On July 7, Representative John Carney (D-DE) introduced H.R. 2953, a bill that would expand the Moving to Work (MTW) demonstration by up to 60 public housing agencies and remove the cap on the number of public housing units that can convert their subsidy streams under the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD).
MTW provides broad flexibility from current public housing and housing choice voucher program rules. Currently MTW is limited to 39 public housing agencies (PHAs). The bill would allow MTW to expand to up to 300,000 housing choice vouchers and public housing units owned by 60 additional PHAs. The new MTW PHAs would have to have a voucher utilization rate of at least 90% of voucher funds, as defined by the Secretary, for the duration of their participation in the program. The voucher utilization rate for several existing MTW PHAs has been well below 90%.
The bill would not make other key reforms sought by NLIHC and other advocates in any MTW expansion effort, including:
- establishing a rigorous evaluation component,
- requiring MTW PHAs to target some housing assistance to extremely low income households,
- ensuring that any rent policies, time limits, or work requirements do not harm residents, and
- ensuring that housing resources are overwhelmingly used to provide affordable housing.
The bill would also expand RAD by eliminating the cap on the number of public housing units that could convert their public housing operating and capital subsidy streams to either project-based rental assistance contracts or project-based vouchers. Currently RAD conversion is capped at 185,000 public housing units.
“The Housing Assistance Reform Act will help more Americans pursue better opportunities and improve their quality of life. I am working closely with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get it passed,” Mr. Carney said in a statement upon the bill’s introduction.
Currently, the Delaware State Housing Authority (DSHA) is the only PHA in Delaware that has MTW status. Under its MTW authority, DSHA has eliminated utility reimbursement payments and time limited housing assistance. Residents required to work at least 20 hours per week who earn no less than minimum wage or who are required to be in a training or educational program at least 20 hours per week are limited to five years of assistance. Residents who are required to work at least 30 hours a week can receive housing assistance for seven years. DSHA also used voucher reserves to renovate a Low Income Housing Tax Credit property owned by an affiliated nonprofit entity.
The bill was referred to the House Committee on Financial Services.
More information about MTW is on page 4-17 of NLIHC’s 2015 Advocates’ Guide, http://nlihc.org/sites/default/files/Sec4.06_Public-Housing-Moving-to-Work_2015.pdf
More information about RAD is on page 4-21 of NLIHC’s 2015 Advocates’ Guide, http://nlihc.org/sites/default/files/Sec4.07_Public-Housing-Rental-Assistance_2015.pdf