Call for Congress to Return Section 8 and Public Housing to 30% Maximum Income for Rent

July 8, 2009
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While the new federal anti-foreclosure bill signed by President Obama helps homeowners affected by the current financial meltdown, the bill and its $13.6 billion housing recovery money have ignored the one-third of American households who rent, say former Mayor of New York and Congressman Ed Koch, and ex-White House spokesperson Bob Weiner, formerly chief of staff of the House Aging Committee.

Koch and Weiner are urging Congress to return Section 8 and public housing to a maximum 30 percent of income for rent, itself a compromise from the previous law under the Koch amendment in Congress that limited it to 20 percent. People are being impoverished and driven to homelessness by being forced to pay as much as 40 percent and 50 percent of income as rent, they say.

“When Congress legislated the Housing and Community Development Act in 1974, the original bill included the Koch amendment, which established that a family should pay no more than 15 percent to 20 percent of income in federally assisted housing and that a voucher would cover the difference,” they explain.

“Over the years, this successful program has been whittled away by special interest groups and misdirected priorities. Many families pay upwards of 40 percent and 50 percent or their income because they cannot find an apartment that meets the established rent cap,” they note. “The New York City Housing Authority reports there are 127,825 New York families on the wait list. It shouldn’t surprise us that one very immediate consequence of all this is homeless.”

The pair praised Congressional representatives Maxine Waters and Barney Frank for moving forward with Section 8 housing reform.