Senate Committee Passes Bill That Would Undermine Health and Safety of Some Public Housing Residents

The Senate Banking Committee approved the “Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act” (S. 2155) on December 5. The bill includes provisions that would undermine the physical integrity of many public housing developments, putting the health and safety of public housing tenants at risk and destabilizing communities. The bill also incorporates the Protect Tenants at Foreclosure Act and the Family Self-Sufficiency Act, which provide important protections and opportunities for low income renters. NLIHC sent a letter to the Committee outlining our concerns.

Currently, HUD rules provide a concrete, quantitative measure to evaluate the performance of small public housing authorities (PHA). S. 2155 eliminates that measure and gives HUD discretion for labeling a small PHA as “troubled.” The bill states that a small PHA may be designated as troubled if HUD determines the PHA has failed to maintain its properties “in a satisfactory physical condition,” but does not define what that entails. Such an unclear and subjective standard could lead to poor outcomes in enforcement and oversight, putting tenants’ health and safety at risk.

Additionally, the bill postpones physical inspections for public housing for three years, unless the small PHA has been deemed troubled under the new, vague definition. Current HUD rules allow only the highest performing small PHAs to receive a physical inspection every three years. Those PHAs categorized as standard or substandard are inspected every two years, and those rated as troubled are inspected every year. S. 2155 would also apply a less rigorous standard for evaluating the physical condition of a small PHA’s properties.

NLIHC sent a letter to senators Crapo and Brown on December 7 sharing our concerns with this act. Read this letter at: