Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA) reintroduced a broad public housing preservation and resident protection bill on February 17 (see Memo, 7/23/10). The bill, H.R. 672, is cosponsored by House Committee on Financial Services Ranking Member Barney Frank (D-MA) and Representative Nydia Velazquez (D-NY). The bill provides a number of new tools to stop the loss of public housing, improve residents’ lives, and protect residents.
Ms. Waters noted the loss of public housing units in a statement made at the bill’s introduction. “For many years now, I have worked to preserve and improve the nation’s public housing developments, which provide much needed affordable housing for 1.2 million low income families nationwide. Public housing is currently in a crisis. Since 1995, the nation has lost 200,000 public housing units. HUD estimates that 10,000 units a year are demolished or sold through its demolition-disposition process,” Ms. Waters said.
“Some of these units have been replaced by housing choice vouchers. However, a housing choice voucher, which belongs to an individual, can never truly replace a public housing unit, which belongs to a community. The affordable rental crisis in America today has been exacerbated by the lack of hard affordable rental units and an overreliance on vouchers,” Ms. Waters continued in her statement.
The bill would authorize HUD’s Choice Neighborhoods Initiative program, while including improvements to HUD’s CNI proposal sought by NLIHC and others relating to one-for-one replacement language, protections against displacing low income renters in gentrifying neighborhoods that receive CNI grants, and effective requirements for determining resident preferences for relocation and return, and tenant participation.
The bill would also make significant changes to the public housing demolition and disposition processes, one of which would require the replacement of all housing units lost through demolition and disposition, those lost through the mandatory or voluntary conversion of public housing units to tenant-based vouchers, or by eminent domain.
The bill would provide new financing tools for public housing preservation and allow conversion of public housing to assisted living facilities and to service-enriched housing. Mr. Frank had circulated draft legislation in 2010 authorizing these new tools.
Finally, the bill would authorize a program long championed by Ms. Velazquez to provide four public housing agencies grants to train public housing residents as home health aides and as providers of home-based health services to elderly and disabled residents of public or assisted housing.
The bill was referred to the House Committee on Financial Services.