Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH), a cofounder of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, introduced a bill that would eliminate nearly all federal affordable housing programs by consolidating them into a state block grant. The “Welfare Reform and Upward Mobility Act” (H.R. 5360) would prohibit Congress from funding means-tested housing programs beginning in 2017.
H.R. 5360 would consolidate the following programs:
- Housing Choice Voucher program,
- Public Housing,
- Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance program,
- HOME Investment Partnerships program (HOME),
- McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants,
- Section 202 Housing for the Elderly program,
- Section 811 Housing for People with Disabilities program,
- Native American Housing Block Grant program,
- Section 101 Rent Supplement Program,
- Section 236 Rental Assistance Payments program,
- Rural Housing Insurance Fund, and
- assistance programs provided by the Rural Housing Service.
Instead of funding these programs individually, Congress would appropriate funds as a block grant to states in an amount that “bears the same relationship” to the amount that a state received for means-tested housing programs for the most recent fiscal year. Each year over the next ten years, Congress would reduce funding for housing block grants until the spending is cut in half by 2017.
States would have to match 20% of their federal grants with non-federal funds. States would “have full flexibility to use the amounts of grants to finance a housing provider, service, or program,” and would be allowed to establish a portable voucher system that allows parents with low incomes to use a portion of their voucher’s value to attend a private prekindergarten education program.
States would have to conduct a “comprehensive self-assessment of the effectiveness and progress” of covered housing programs. The Comptroller General of the United States would also have to conduct a study and report its findings to Congress on different approaches and best practices used by states in carrying out their affordable housing programs in accordance with the bill.
The bill would also impose new requirements on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance program (food stamps) and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.
When introducing the bill, Mr. Jordan said, “Welfare programs are meant to be a temporary safety net, but they have become a permanent way of life for millions of Americans. Instead of giving impoverished families and individuals a helping hand, the current system penalizes positive steps toward self-sufficiency.”
The bill currently has four cosponsors and was referred to the House Committees on Ways and Means, Agriculture, Energy and Commerce, Financial Services, and Budget.
Learn more about the bill at: https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/5360