FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 1, 2012
CONTACT: Amy Clark, email@example.com, 202.662.1530 x227
At Hearing on Reform of HUD Rental Housing Programs, Senate Urged to Move Quickly, But Protect Tenants
At a hearing today held by the U.S. Senate Banking Committee Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation, and Community Development, advocates for affordable housing for the lowest income Americans urged Senators to move forward with the uncontroversial provisions of a House bill to reform how HUD rental housing programs are run.
The House bill, currently called the Affordable Housing and Self-Sufficiency Improvement Act, is the latest step in nearly a decade of efforts to streamline HUD rental housing program operations to save funds and assist a greater number of households.
Linda Couch, Senior Vice President for Policy and Research at the National Low Income Housing Coalition, called on the panel to adopt reforms that improve the programs from the perspective of assisted households, result in savings and efficiencies, and stabilize voucher renewal funding.
The ongoing economic downturn has only increased the need for housing assistance. In 2010, there was a 6.8 million unit shortage of rental homes affordable and available to extremely low income households. HUD’s Housing Choice Voucher, public housing and project-based voucher programs are the primary federal housing programs serving those households. Insufficient funding and administrative inefficiencies have resulted in the loss of more than 150,000 vouchers alone. Rental assistance programs must be stabilized if the United States is to have any hope of solving homelessness.
While she expressed general support for the House bill, Ms. Couch made clear the Coalition’s objection to proposals from both the House of Representatives and the Administration to generate revenue by increasing the minimum rents paid by low income households. “While it may be hard to imagine that there are households with incomes so low,” said Ms. Couch, noting that the House proposal would increase rents paid by individuals and families making just $2,800 per year, “the reality is that these households exist and the programs keeping them off the street, out of the back seats of cars at night and out of shelters, are HUD’s voucher, public housing and project-based Section 8 programs.” Minimum rent increases could drive these households into homelessness.
In his opening remarks, subcommittee member Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) voiced support for the National Housing Trust Fund as an additional program that could meet the housing needs of extremely low income people alongside HUD rental assistance programs. The National Housing Trust Fund was established as a provision of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 and will, once capitalized, provide communities across the country with funds to build, preserve, and rehabilitate rental homes that are affordable for extremely and very low income households.
Established in 1974 by Cushing N. Dolbeare, the National Low Income Housing Coalition is dedicated solely to achieving socially just public policy that assures people with the lowest incomes in the United States have affordable and decent homes.
National Low Income Housing Coalition
727 15th Street NW, 6th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20005
202/662-1530; Fax 202/393-1973; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.nlihc.org