On January 7, Senator David Vitter (R-LA) introduced S. 65, “The Moving to Work Charter Program Act of 2015,” which would expand the number of public housing agencies (PHAs) participating in HUD’s Moving to Work (MTW) demonstration from 39 to 250. MTW provides PHAs with sweeping regulatory flexibility in operating the public housing and housing choice voucher programs.
Under the Vitter bill, MTW PHAs would be allowed to comingle public housing and voucher funds, and use these funds for housing or services. The 250 PHAs would be required to impose five-year time limits on assistance and to implement work requirements. In addition, extremely low income targeting no longer would be required, nor would rent limits set at 30% of household income.
The bill, previously introduced by Senator Vitter in the 112th and 113th Congresses, was referred to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.
NLIHC opposes the expansion of MTW without tenant protections and evaluation requirements because of the potential for unaffordable rents, relaxation of deep income targeting, and resource shifting without careful oversight to ensure that at least as many households are being served as were before MTW.
In 2012, NLIHC and a group of national partners, including HUD, developed what is referred to as the “stakeholder” agreement. The agreement would allow for a significant expansion of MTW PHAs, but also includes key changes to protect residents and the long-term financial and physical health of public housing. The stakeholder agreement would allow only a limited number of agencies to impose time limits or impose major rent reforms. PHAs that chose to institute such reforms would also be subject to rigorous evaluation so that Congress, HUD, and all stakeholders could gain an understanding of which policy reforms are effective, and which are not. The fate of the stakeholder agreement is uncertain at the start of the 114th Congress.
The MTW stakeholder agreement, is at http://nlihc.org/sites/default/files/MTW_Stakeholder_Agreement_0.pdf