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House Conservatives Release Poverty Agenda, Include Housing Reforms

The Republican Study Committee (RSC), a group of conservatives in the House, submitted its recommendations to House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) Task Force on Poverty, Opportunity, and Upward Mobility that has been working to develop an anti-poverty agenda expected to be released in the coming months. The RSC’s plan aims to “modernize America’s social safety net and empower individuals through work.” The plan includes recommendations for streamlining affordable housing programs and imposing work requirements.

Specifically, the plan proposes linking housing assistance with the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and other welfare initiatives “to make it easier for beneficiaries to receive assistance and work.” Able-bodied people with no dependents would be required to work or be preparing to work in order to receive housing assistance. 

The plan recommends Congress make reforms that would allow housing voucher recipients to move more easily to high opportunity neighborhoods. “Benefits should travel with qualified beneficiaries, and not trap families in failing areas with limited economic opportunity by being tied to a particular housing unit,” the report states. The plan recommends that a portion of housing assistance be allocated to programs that assist recovering drug and alcohol abusers.

The plan also states that the federal government should push for more private investment in public housing through an expansion of the Rental Assistance Demonstration, and housing authorities should be permitted to use profits to develop units without government assistance. Housing authorities should consolidate and be required to compete for funding based on their ability to get people to join the workforce.

The plan states, “It is unclear whether the federal government should play a central role in subsidizing housing, but if these programs are to exist, then they should focus on moving the poor away from dependence on federal subsidies. Under their current form, these programs encourage broken homes, broken communities, and low self-worth among recipients.”

The plan would also combine funding streams of safety net programs into a single stream for each state that would be based on a historical average of funding across a business cycle. States would have flexibility in how they use and save money from their funding stream, but they would be penalized if they fail to impose work requirements.

Read the Republican Study Committee’s proposal at: