Senate Bill Would Eliminate Nearly All Federal Housing Programs

Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced the “Welfare Reform and Upward Mobility Act” (S. 3047) that would eliminate nearly all federal affordable housing programs by consolidating them into a state block grant. S. 3047 is the Senate companion to H.R. 5360, introduced by Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH) (See Memo 6/6). The bill would prohibit Congress from funding means-tested housing programs beginning in 2017.

S. 3047 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 instead 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. Over a ten year period, Congress would increasingly reduce funding for housing block grants until 2027 when funding would be cut in half.

States receiving grants would have to provide a 20% match of 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 grant funds 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 U.S. Comptroller General would also have to conduct a study on different approaches and best practices used by states in carrying out their affordable housing programs in accordance with the bill and report its findings to Congress.

The bill would also impose new requirements on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps) and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.

The bill currently has three cosponsors and was referred to the Senate Finance Committee.

Learn more about the bill at: