House Passes Four Housing Bills

On July 14, the House passed four housing bills under “suspension of the rules,” a designation reserved for noncontroversial bills that can speed passage.

The Homes for Heroes Act of 2015 (H.R. 251), introduced by Representative Al Green (D-TX), would establish the position of Special Assistant for Veterans’ Affairs at HUD and require an annual submission of the Supplemental Veterans’ Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR). While the current Administration has submitted a Veterans’ AHAR each year, the veteran component of the AHAR is not mandated by law. The bill was introduced in the 113th Congress and passed the House by a vote of 420 to 3, but was never taken up by the Senate. The current bill passed by a vote of 412 to 1, with only Representative Justin Amash (R-MI) opposing the legislation. There is no similar bill in the Senate.

The Housing Assistance Efficiency Act (H.R. 1047), introduced by Representative Scott Peters (D-CA), would allow private nonprofit organizations to administer permanent rental assistance through the Continuum of Care Program under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. Under current law, only public housing agencies and state and local governments can administer this assistance. The bill also would require HUD to reallocate unspent funds annually rather than twice a year. The bill passed by a voice vote.

The Private Investment in Housing Act of 2015 (H.R. 2997), introduced by Representative Dennis Ross (R-FL), would authorize a demonstration program intended to leverage private resources for conservation of energy and water under a pay-for-success model. The demonstration would apply to project-based Section 8, Section 202, and Section 811 housing developments. Such a demonstration was requested by HUD in its FY16 budget request and is also in the Senate Appropriations Committee’s FY16 HUD spending bill. The bill passed the House by a vote of 395 to 28, with only Republicans opposing it.

The Preservation Enhancement and Savings Opportunity Act of 2015 (H.R. 2482), introduced by Representative Erik Paulsen (R-MN), would amend the Low Income Housing Preservation and Resident Homeownership Act of 1990 (LIHPRHA) to allow increased distributions and refinancing opportunities for owners of certain HUD-assisted Multifamily properties. Regarding distributions, the bill would allow owners to distribute all surplus cash generated by the property on an annual basis and distribute any funds accumulated in a residual receipts account if the owner has completed or set aside funds to complete capital repairs identified by a recent, third party capital needs assessment. Residual receipts are the accumulated cash surplus that is over and above the allowable limited dividends provided to owners of certain affordable housing projects. Today, the use of residual receipts at the end of the project’s contract term is governed by regulatory use agreements and is restricted to a small number of uses related to the project itself and to uses that benefit tenants.

Owners making such distributions would have to continue to operate the property in compliance with the affordability provisions of the use agreement for the remaining useful life of the property, and continue to renew or extend any project-based rental assistance contract for a term of at least 20 years.

Regarding refinancing, H.R. 2482 would allow LIHPRHA property owners to refinance if the owner undertakes adequate rehabilitation pursuant to a capital needs assessment to ensure long-term sustainability of the property. Rent increases for unassisted tenants would be limited to 10% per year. In addition, for the duration of their tenancy, unassisted tenants would not have to pay more than 30% of their income for rent and utilities, or the amount they paid prior to the refinancing, whichever is greater.

The bill passed the House by voice vote. 

The text of H.R. 251 is at

The text of H.R. 1047 is at

The text of H.R. 2997 is at

The text of H.R. 2482 is at